Murphy makes the Mets pay again with pair of homers

Daniel Murphy won't ever say it, at least not publicly, so Max Scherzer was left to explain how his attention-deflecting teammate feels about his performance against the Mets this season.

"It's just obvious that he wants to beat 'em up," Scherzer said. "It's obvious. Everybody wants to. When you face your former team, you obviously want to get the best of them. For him to come out here and really slug against them, it puts a smile on all of our faces because we know what he's going through."

Murphy was at it again last night, clubbing a pair of home runs to lead the Nationals to a 4-2 victory over the New York club that chose not to re-sign him over the winter.

You think the veteran second baseman might be motivated a bit to stick it to the only other franchise that ever employed him? In nine games against the Mets now, he's hitting .429 (15-for-35) with four homers and 11 RBIs.

Murphy-Swings-White-Sidebar.jpgNot that he'd admit it.

"Any division (opponent) you're able to sweep is always a big deal, whether it be Atlanta, Philly, or this series it was the Mets," he said. "We played good baseball. That's four in a row. Hopefully we can continue doing that."

Murphy, of course, hasn't only been beating up on the Mets. He has been tearing up the entire National League. Even with modest numbers in June (a .263 batting average, four homers, 19 RBIs), he still leads the league with a .352 average.

And he now has clubbed 14 homers, matching his career high despite the fact the Nationals have only played 79 games to date.

This, though, is merely an extension of a late-season surge Murphy enjoyed in 2015, one that included some tweaks to his swing mechanics that produced far more power than he had ever displayed as a big leaguer. Add up his last 162 games (including the postseason), and he's hitting .316 with 31 homers, 108 RBIs, 202 hits, 44 doubles and a .907 OPS.

"He's learned how to hit the ball out of the ballpark, which is indicative of how he was hitting the ball out of the ballpark in the playoffs," manager Dusty Baker said. "Like I've always said, I'll take an opposite-field hitter and teach him in time - or he'll learn in time - how to pull the ball and how to hit the ball out of the ballpark, how to sit on pitches and look for pitches. Versus taking a pull hitter and trying to teach him to go away.

"Murphy's bread and butter is up the middle and the other way. He can do that almost any time he is ready because that was his stroke for so long. He's learned how to hit the ball out of the ballpark and how to use his legs. He uses his legs as a hitter probably better than any hitter in this league. It's about learning, and once you learn your formula of what to do, then it gets easier and easier and easier."

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