Stopping new Mr. October: Royals face ‘comfortable’ Murphy
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Daniel Murphy took a meaty cut, then motioned to the batting practice pitcher to throw one a bit outside.
”Please,” the New York Mets bopper added, politely.
Murphy promptly lined the next toss Monday into the right-field corner at Kauffman Stadium.
That’s how easy he’s making it look in real games, too.
So far, Murphy has invited many of baseball’s top aces to his October bash – Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Jake Arrieta among them.
Now, the Kansas City Royals hope to spoil his playoff party.
Murphy has homered in a record six straight postseason games. He’ll take aim at Edinson Volquez and the Royals starting Tuesday night in the World Series opener.
Murphy hit a career-best 14 home runs during the regular season, then launched seven more in the first two rounds against the Dodgers and Cubs. He is one from matching the mark for most homers in a single postseason, shared by Barry Bonds, Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz.
”Superman? Oh, no, no,” he said before the workout. ”Just a second baseman who’s trying to get a good pitch to hit.”
To Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland, that’s the crux of Murphy’s sudden power surge.
”He’s getting a lot of good pitches to hit, and he isn’t missing them,” Eiland said. ”He’s right on them.”
Eiland has noticed something else.
”He looks very comfortable in the batter’s box – and I’ll leave it at that,” Eiland said.
Told about Eiland’s comment, Royals pitcher Kris Medlen chuckled.
”Nobody’s going to hit anybody,” Medlen said. ”But there are ways to get guys out. Coming in, going out, mixing it up.”
Medlen noted that last week against the Cubs, Murphy golfed a pitched that was barely a foot off the ground for a home run. It was the second-lowest pitch hit for a homer in the majors this year.
”He’s hitting everything,” Medlen said.
Murphy won the MVP award in the NL Championship Series for sweeping Chicago, going 9 for 17. Overall, he’s 16 for 38 (.421) in his first postseason, driving in 11 runs and scoring 11 in nine games.
Along with his home runs, he’s doubled twice, walked once and struck out six times.
Regarded a good contact hitter throughout his career, Murphy made some mechanical adjustments at the plate this year designed to get more power.
”Get your foot down in time and use your legs,” he summed up.
The results this month, though, have exceeded anything than anyone could have imagined.
After hitting 62 home runs in 3,354 career at-bats, he’s connected seven times in 38 at-bats in becoming New York’s newest ”Mr. October.”
Asked to describe Murphy right now, Medlen simply said: ”Hitter-ish.”
Murphy faced several of the Kansas City pitchers when they were in the National League, including Medlen, Volquez and Johnny Cueto. But he has never homered off any of the pitchers currently on the Royals’ staff.
Plus, Kauffman Stadium plays fairly big. It was tied for 25th among the 30 big league parks for home runs, STATS said.
”He’s hitting a lot of home runs this postseason, which is a great accomplishment. We’re not trying to give up homers,” Royals closer Wade Davis said.
Murphy, a free agent-to-be, says he isn’t spending much time thinking about being in a special zone. Besides, others are only too glad to talk about what he’s doing.
”It’s the hot streak,” teammate David Wright said. ”I’m not sure it’s a hot streak.”
Whatever, the Royals already have thought through how to stop Murphy.
”We talked about in our advance meeting today how he stands on top of the plate, like Barry Bonds did,” manager Ned Yost said.