Another clutch home run from Daniel Murphy has helped define a season of significance
Facing Clayton Kershaw on Friday night in game one of the Division Series, Terry Collins faced significant questioning for his choice to deviate from the blueprint which made the club so successful down the stretch of the season, which would normally feature a right-handed dominant lineup against a difficult southpaw.
But it was his left-handed hitters which did all of the damage against Kershaw on Friday.
Collins knew going in how difficult Kershaw might be to pick up, but noted earlier in the day a true fact that left-handed hitters had slightly more success against Kershaw in 2015 than right-handers.
Sure, Kershaw only allowed four hits, but all of them were off of the Mets left-handed hitters. No right-handed hitter recorded a base hit against him.
And it was Daniel Murphy who gave the Mets the lead with his second home run off a left-hander with a blast into the right field bullpen in the fourth inning.
He hit the ball so hard, an imprint of his name from the bat was left on the ball:
“My first at-bat he chewed me up and spit me out,” Murphy explained. “The next at-bat I was able to get my foot down just a little earlier. Got a 2-0 heater in the middle of the plate, and I was fortunate to put a good swing on it.”
That’s an understatement, to say the least.
“He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and I felt really fortunate to put a good swing on the ball he threw me,” he concluded.
It was only the second time this season Murphy hit a home run against a left-hander.
Murphy said he was surprised he caught a mistake from Kershaw.
“He makes so few mistakes that when someone capitalizes on him, we’re surprised because he’s so good,” he said.
While Murphy simply got the scoring started for the Mets, David Wright felt that to be the most significant run for the club, as it gave Jacob deGrom the necessary momentum he needed to get the club deep into the game with their slim lead.
“If you love a pitcher’s dual, that’s about as good as it gets. You’ve got Jacob deGrom who came in maybe as a little bit of an unknown going up against the great Clayton Kershaw, and he matched him pitch for pitch, put up zeros.” Wright explained. When Murph hit the homer, he put up a zero. … you want to do everything you can to scratch out the win for him.”
Murphy took nothing for granted against Kershaw even though he found a brief and necessary moment of success against him on Friday.
“You know it’s going to be a tough at-bat with Clayton, but you just try to put a good at-bat on him as much as you can,” he explained.
It’s not the first time Murphy has provided the Mets with a powerful display of dramatics this year.
Eight of his 14 home runs during the regular year either tied or gave the Mets the lead, highlighted by a dramatic three run home run against the Marlins in their last at-bat in late April, and a tremendous three-run home run against the Braves in September to tie the game in the ninth inning after they had two outs and nobody on.
There were others, but potentially none more significant than the one he hit Friday night.