Murphy stays hot, Kluber bounces back in Tribe’s victory over Padres

Through 25 games at Progressive Field, Murphy is batting .375 (33 for 88) with four home runs and 20 RBI.

Ken Blaze/Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND — David Murphy struggled for most of spring training to the point where even he admitted that he didn’t necessarily resemble a major-league hitter. During the past two games he definitely looks like one now.

After having four hits on Sunday, Murphy was the first Indians’ player to drive in four runs this season as he went 2 for 3 in an 8-6 win over San Diego. The two hits also included his first home run in an Indians’ uniform.

With his performance the past two games, Murphy has raised his batting average to .364.

"That’s what is so weird about it. I felt so terrible most of spring training," Murphy said. "Just to be able to show up like this it is night and day. I haven’t felt this feeling in awhile."

Murphy signed with Cleveland during the off-season but many were wondering what type of player they were getting — the one who batted .304 with the Rangers in 2012 or the one whose average dipped to .220? During spring training and the opening series at Oakland, it appeared to be the latter.

However one big factor in signing Murphy was that one of his favorite parks to hit is Progressive Field. Through 25 games here, Murphy is batting .375 (33 for 88) with four home runs and 20 RBI.

"It’s a great place to hit. There are some places like Oakland that are wide open and you’re playing baseball on a football field," he said. "It’s not the most comfortable feeling in the box. You step in the box here and there’s a great feel to it. There is a great batter’s eye and you see the ball well out of the pitcher’s hand."

When asked about Murphy’s past two games, manager Terry Francona is the first to admit that numbers sometimes can skew things, especially when you have a two-game run like Murphy has. But the one benefit of Murphy’s hot streak is that he thinks it will allow him to relax and play his game.

Another thing that has pleased Francona is that Murphy is hitting the ball all over the field. During Sunday’s 10-7 loss to Minnesota, he had a double to left that landed between the third baseman and left fielder near the line. He also had two hits to right.

On Tuesday against the Padres, he hit a 3-1 fastball by Tyson Ross 372 feet into the right-field seats for a three-run homer during the fourth inning and a 6-2 Indians lead. Two innings later, he greeted Tim Stauffer by lacing a double to the left-center wall for another RBI. It is the ninth time in Murphy’s career with at least four RBI and his first since May 19 of last year against Detroit. When the Tribe has a player drive in four or more runs in a game it is a good omen as they are 18-1 over the past two seasons.

Added Murphy: "There are so many variables in hitting that you can dissect and aspects and variables. At the end of the day sometimes you simplify it and things just feel good.

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"It’s not like transitions are simple but I feel like I’m starting to fit in here and this ballpark is starting to feel like home."

KLUBER BATTLES: Corey Kluber got the first win for an Indians starter this season but it wasn’t easy. The right-hander allowed the leadoff hitter to reach the first four innings and gave up nine hits, but he allowed only three runs, didn’t walk any Padres and struck out eight.

Kluber threw 105 pitches, which was his most in his past seven starts, but 69 were for strikes. He had first-pitch strikes to only 10 of the 26 batters he faced but was able to get ahead the deeper in the count he went. He did have six pitch at-bats though to five of the first 10 San Diego batters he faced.

"They had a lot of traffic early on in the game but I was able to work around it and that gives you a confidence boost," Kluber said.

Since the start of last season, Kluber is 6-1 with a 2.75 ERA in the 11 starts he has made following an Indians’ loss. He is also 4-0 over the past two seasons in interleague games.