An ugly Sunday for Daniel Murphy ends with glorious redemption
It wasn’t Daniel Murphy’s greatest day in a Met uniform by any means on Sunday.
Maybe until the ninth inning, anyway.
One of the recurring themes for this Mets team all year long – aside from their relentless resiliency – has been one of redemption.
Murphy himself has cashed in on opportunities to redeem himself on a couple of occasions this season. The last time Murphy was offered a chance to truly redeem himself in a game was in April against the Marlins in Miami after he was struggling so badly on both sides of the ball, and he came up with a ninth inning three-run home run against Steve Cishek to give the Mets the lead and help secure a dramatic come-from-behind win.
The conditions were similar for Murphy on Sunday. He found himself with a collar at the plate and struggling defensively at second base, particularly in the seventh inning on a groundball hit just to his right during which he chose to back hand rather than get in front. The ball skipped by him, setting up the fourth and tying run to eventually score for the Braves.
“I fielded like garbage today,” Murphy explained. “I just didn’t play very well. I didn’t.”
But in unlikely fashion, Murphy would be given an opportunity to make up for his poor afternoon.
With the Mets down to their last out, trailing by three runs in the ninth. Juan Lagares doubled into the right field gap after Cameron Maybin dove and just missed catching the sinking liner.
And it was close. Maybin actually had the ball, but it trickled out of his glove while he was on the ground.
That kept the game going, and Curtis Granderson worked another quality plate appearance for a walk, bringing Murphy to the plate as the tying run.
It was as good a time as any for Murphy to try and tie the game. The Mets had one more out to work with, they were down by three, and he was their best and really last chance to breathe life into what really was a dead afternoon for both he and the rest of his team.
Of course, in most cases, whenever a player tries to hit a home run, failure is typically the result. Murphy admitted on Sunday the only other time in his career he has approached an at-bat with a home run mentality was his at-bat against Cishek 4 1/2 months earlier.
The approach worked again.
Murphy launched a three-run home run into the right field stands to tie the game and sink the hopes of the Braves who were looking to shake an 84-year-old demon by snapping their 11-game home losing streak.
“I didn’t think I would hit a home run, but I was trying to. I was surprised,” Murphy explained.
Murphy’s 11th home run of the season electrified the Mets dugout and shocked anyone who was willing to continue watching this mess of a game. It further exemplified not only the winning attitude and culture that’s been instilled into this Mets team, but proved once again this team believes in itself and won’t quit, even under the most dire circumstances with no outs to play with.
But as is always the case with Murphy, he credited his teammates for creating an opportunity for him to come up with a chance to tie the game.
“Lagares could have cashed in his at-bat,” Murphy explained. “He gets down two strikes to Peter Moylan and he battled back. Grandy put together another good at-bat. He just keeps stacking good ABs on top of good ABs. That inning was made up long before I got up there.”
As Murphy likes to credit other players for his opportunity, their opportunity win in the tenth inning can be attributed to Murphy’s home run. If not for the home run, the Mets would’ve been on a bus to the airport reflecting on an ugly loss instead of batting in the tenth inning.
And in that tenth inning, the Mets would score three more runs to secure one of the most unlikely victories in club history. Before Sunday, the last time the Mets trailed by three runs and won was on May 11, 2014 against the Phillies.
Murphy is now only one of three Mets in franchise history to erase a three-run deficit with a home run when they were down to their last out in a game.
“It doesn’t matter who is in there,” Terry Collins said. “They all want to be a part of it.”
And Murphy, who has suffered through thick and thin with this organization, has done whatever the club has asked him to do through thorough embarrassment, wants it as much as anyone in the organization.