Murphy goes from controversy to playoff star for Mets
LOS ANGELES (AP) Mets fans chanted ”Re-sign!” in a boisterous hint to management to bring back playoff star Daniel Murphy. Seven months ago, much of New York was calling for his departure after he said he disagrees with the lifestyle of gay people.
Murphy stole an uncovered third base and went on to score the tying run in the fourth inning Thursday night of a decisive Game 5 in the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Two innings later, he hit a go-ahead homer off Zack Greinke that led the Mets to a 3-2 victory and into the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.
Murphy had a hit in each of the five division series games, going 7 for 21 with a double, three home runs and five RBIs. He was loudly cheered by a small group of blue and orange-clad Mets fans when he came on the field after the game.
Two of Murphy’s homers in the series were off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
”You never think that you’re going to be able to take advantage of Clayton or Zack with as good as they are,” he said. ”You’re kind of hoping to scratch out maybe one base hit and do something positive. To be able to have three good at-bats off of somebody that good, I was surprised, but it was a lot of fun.”
That feeling was in sharp contrast to spring training.
Murphy drew plenty of ire in March with his comments after the Mets brought in former major leaguer Billy Bean to talk to the team. Bean came out as gay after retiring and is now MLB’s first ambassador for inclusion.
Murphy, a self-described Christian, said, ”I disagree with the lifestyle. I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual.”
Murphy described Christians’ stance on being gay by saying, "We love the people. We disagree (with) the lifestyle.”
The public outcry against Murphy was swift and loud. For his part, Bean wrote in an online column that he admired the 30-year-old second baseman for saying publicly what he really believed privately.
Murphy drew attention last year when he chose to skip opening day to be with his wife for the birth of their child. Later in the year, he spoke at the White House about parental rights and being a working parent at a summit on working families.
He is eligible to become a free agent after the postseason and he could end up leaving the Mets who drafted him in the 13th round in 2006. He was a first-time All-Star in 2014.
With the Mets clinging to a 3-2 lead after his homer in the sixth Thursday night, Murphy referred to his faith in describing what he was feeling knowing there was still time for the Dodgers to regain the lead.
”There was a lot of prayer going on out there, just asking for peace and just talking to Jesus and asking for peace those last three or four innings,” he said.
New York trailed 2-1 in the fourth when Murphy singled and the Dodgers shifted three infielders to the right side, leaving no one near third with left-handed hitter Lucas Duda at the plate. When Duda walked on a 3-1 pitch with one out, Murphy jogged to second and suddenly sprinted to third.
”That was all Dan Murphy,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. ”As soon as he hit second, he took off for third and obviously made it. That tells you the player Dan Murphy is. He’s alert. He’s always trying to find an edge.”