Friday, October 16, 2015

Murphy carries Mets to improbable LDS win over Dodgers

NYM Win Series 3-2

Daniel Thomas Murphy has been a New York Met his entire career. Drafted in 2006 out of Jacksonville University, the Mets second baseman has had an interesting path to his heroic performance last night in Los Angeles, to say the least. 

Murphy went through a lot in his career, labeled a bust early on because there was no set position on the field for him; from trying his craft at first base, second base and left field, it seemed like no matter where the Mets put Murphy they couldn't find a spot they could be comfortable with. Not to mention, Murphy had to endure so much losing as the Mets were in the midst of a transition period. 

Before the 2013 season, many wondered if Murphy was just a transitional player, himself. Then he began to hit, and began to play second base better then he had before. He put up big numbers in 2013, got an All Star nod last season, and this year he has taken off. 14 home runs and 73 RBI for the second baseman this year, yet no matter what happens in the NLCS, Daniel Murphy will be remembered for what he did against the Dodgers in the NLDS. 

Don't look at the number, as impressive as they are, if you watched Game 5, you know what you saw. 

Murphy carried the Mets to a level they could only dream of on Thursday. He opened the game with a RBI triple off the wall in left-center that scored Curtis Granderson that gave New York a 1-0. Then, in the fourth inning, Murphy had the play that will define his time with the Mets. 

During a walk to Lucas Duda, Murphy took full advantage of the Dodgers extreme shift on Duda, and stole third base. His play totally caught the Dodgers off guard, but Murphy, who has been lambasted in the past for his base running, had one of the most heads up plays in Mets history. 

Without that steal of third, the Mets never tie the game, and, perhaps never even win it. After his steal, Murphy would score that tying run on a Travis d'Arnaud sacrifice fly to right field. 

This moment was the turning point New York needed. Then in the sixth inning, Murphy put the Mets on his back once more when he lifted a Zack Greinke pitch over the short porch in right for a solo home run, his third home run of the series, as the Mets took a 3-2 lead. 

While Murphy's heroics will be what is best remembered in Game 5, lets also take the time to acknowledge what Jacob deGrom did on Thursday. 

deGrom didn't have his best stuff. His fastball was flat, and he was on the brink of being taken out of the ball game in the opening inning as the Dodgers scored two runs on four hits to grab a 2-1 lead. But, the second year righty battled like a veteran. 

He may not have had command of that fastball until about the fifth inning, but he used his second and third pitches effectively against the Dodgers. deGrom left runners in scoring position in each of his first five innings of play. Former Met, Justin Turner was 3-for-3 on deGrom, but he found a way to keep Turner in from coming around to score that crucial run for the Dodgers. LA was 2-for-13 with RISP against the Mets, and deGrom played a big role in that, as he held LA to just those two - first inning runs over six innings of work. In a lot of respects it was an even more impressive outing than the 13-strikeout performance he had in Game 1. 

Also a big tip of the cap goes to Terry Collins, who believed in deGrom, and left him out there to figure things out when most would have pulled him. Also give Collins credit for sticking to his guns and going with Noah Syndergaard for just one inning, and going with Jeurys Familia for two innings, something he hasn't done this year. 

And speaking of Familia, what a job by him. He didn't let the moment of pitching two consecutive innings get to him, and was flawless in relief. He did get a scare when Chase Utley lifted a pitch to right, but fortunately Utley never got around on that 97 mph sinking fastball. Familia struck out both A.J. Ellis and Howie Kendrick to end it and send the jubilant Mets to the NLCS. 

The Mets trip to the NLCS will be their first since 2006 when the lost that infamous series to the Cardinals in seven games. This will be the first time that the Mets and Cubs will meet in the postseason. While the Mets and Cubs have a long history against one another that dates back to their days as bitter rivals in the old NL East, the rivalry has cooled in recent seasons. That might change this week. 

The Cubs did go 7-0 against the Mets in the regular season, but that was before the Mets traded for Yoenis Cespedes, and promoted Michael Conforto. Matt Harvey will get the ball in Game 1 on Saturday night against John Lester. Cubs ace, Jake Arrieta will start Game 2, likely against Noah Syndergaard.  

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