After setting playoff HR record, Murphy named NLCS MVP
This postseason has its own take on Murphy’s law: If something can go right for Daniel Murphy, it will.
Often, right over the outfield fence.
Murphy won NL Championship Series MVP on Wednesday night after homering for a postseason-record sixth straight game, leading the New York Mets over the Chicago Cubs 8-3 to complete a four-game sweep.
A contact hitter known for inconsistent fielding and occasional lapses on base, Murphy has been the driving force in the Mets’ push for their first pennant 15 years.
"I can’t explain why the ball keeps going out of the ballpark, but it does," Murphy said. "And we keep winning ballgames."
Murphy set the record with his latest blast in the eighth inning. He added a double and two singles and has hit safely in each of the Mets’ nine postseason games.
New York, meanwhile, advanced to the World Series for the first time since a bitter Subway Series loss to the Yankees in 2000. This time, the Mets will face Kansas City or Toronto as they try to win their first championship since the amazin’ bunch led by Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry won it all in 1986.
That Mets’ drought, of course, is nothing compared to that of the Cubs, who haven’t won it all since 1908 and won’t this year because of Murphy.
Sure, the Mets’ aces pitched in. The Cubs’ big bats failed to produce big results against starters Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz.
But Murphy’s Babe Ruth impersonation has fueled the Mets — and this after he’d homered in back-to-back games just once in his six-year career.
"I’ve not seen anything like this, I don’t think, ever," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
It’s all been well timed for Murphy, a free agent after this season. He went 9 for 17 with four homers and six RBIs in the NLCS after going deep 14 times during the season. In nine playoff games, he has seven long balls and is 13 for 38 with eight RBIs.
"He’s incredible. He’s on a different planet right now," Mets first baseman Lucas Duda said.
Murphy has also played sharp defense at second and made all the right moves on the bases.
But his work at the plate is what put the pennant in New York’s hands.
"He is a good player," manager Terry Collins said. "He is an overachiever. He’s not blessed with the greatest of talents. He can hit it. But this guy works to make himself a good player, and that’s why I love him."
Murphy, a left-handed hitter who hit just one homer off a left-hander in the regular season, blasted one off Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of the NL Division Series. Later in the series, he kicked his home-run binge into full gear, hitting a solo drive off Kershaw in Game 4, then homering off Zack Greinke in Game 5 to help New York to a decisive 3-2 victory.
He hit a solo homer off left-hander Jon Lester in Game 1 of the NLCS and a two-run drive off Jake Arrieta in Game 2. And when Murphy connected off Kyle Hendricks in Game 3 on Tuesday, that gave him homers in five straight playoff games, tying the mark set by Houston’s Carlos Beltran in 2004.
And then came the latest shot, a victory lap Murphy celebrated with his right fist aloft, trotting a familiar path as these up-and-coming Mets head into unfamiliar territory.