Murphy and Morgan surging at the plate
The weather may be chilly, but David Murphy and Nyjer Morgan are red hot.
The same could be said of the Cleveland Indians in interleague matchups at Progressive Field.
Murphy and Morgan look to continue their respective surges at the plate as the Indians conclude this three-game series with the San Diego Padres with a doubleheader Wednesday.
Cleveland (4-3) has had to cope with cold temperatures while splitting the first four of this six-game homestand, with rain postponing Monday’s series opener to create this twinbill.
Inclement weather already led to a doubleheader for the Indians last Wednesday, which they split at Oakland.
Murphy and Morgan only played in one of those games of that twinbill, but their recent production could be enough to justify playing both ends this time.
Murphy connected for a three-run homer and an RBI double while scoring three times in an 8-6 win over San Diego (2-5) on Tuesday. The left fielder also was 4 for 5 with two doubles and an RBI in a 10-7 defeat to Minnesota on Sunday.
Those performances increased his season average from .143 to .364 as he attempts to bounce back from his career-low .220 in 2013. Murphy credits batting practice from earlier this week for the recent improvement.
"That’s what’s so weird about it," he said. "I felt so terrible most of spring training. I didn’t feel like I necessarily resembled a big league hitter, and even in the first few games of the season. It’s night and day."
Morgan, meanwhile, is 7 for 14 with three RBIs, three runs and four walks in four games after going 0 for 4 in his first two of the season. The center fielder collected three hits, two RBIs and scored a run Tuesday.
The Indians are 7-3 all-time against the Padres and 12-2 over their past 14 interleague games, batting .299 with 22 homers while averaging 6.4 runs.
Maintaining that success could be key as Cleveland will turn to Zach McAllister in the opener of the twinbill before sending Trevor Bauer to the mound in the nightcap.
McAllister is looking to show some improvement after allowing two first-inning runs and three overall while walking four in four innings while not getting a decision in a 6-4 loss to the A’s in the second game of last Wednesday’s doubleheader.
Bauer, who is also a right-hander, went 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA with 16 walks and 11 strikeouts in 17 innings over four starts after being acquired in a trade from Arizona prior to last season.
Manager Terry Francona feels familiarity can breed success for the 23-year-old Bauer.
"You’re new to an organization and dealing with all the things he was last year," manager Terry Francona told the team’s official website, "and maybe we didn’t know quite the extent (of the adjustments he was making). I think he’s better situated right now. I think he’s more comfortable with himself and with us."
Bauer went 0-1 with a 10.29 ERA in four games – one start – during spring training, but allowed one run and two hits with nine strikeouts in six innings with Triple-A Columbus on Friday.
The Padres will counter Bauer with Monday’s scheduled starter Robbie Erlin.
Erlin went 3-3 with a 4.12 ERA in 11 games – nine starts – last season. He made a relief appearance last Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers and recorded two outs in the eighth inning of a 5-1 defeat.
Eric Stults is scheduled to get the ball opposite McAllister in the opener and looking to regroup from a poor season debut. The left-hander, who had a career-high 11 wins last year, was tagged for five runs and seven hits in four innings of Friday’s 8-2 loss at Miami.
He’s 3-10 with a 5.31 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .318 over his last 17 road starts.
Stults allowed two runs and four walks in six innings while not getting a decision with the Chicago White Sox in a 3-2 road loss in his only meeting with the Indians in 2012.