When Murphy stepped to the plate in the top of the first this afternoon with a man on base, the question wasn’t whether he would drive in the runner. It was how he would do it.
How does a two-run homer off the second deck in right field at Citi Field sound to everyone?
With that blast off left-hander Steven Matz, Murphy continued to torture his former team to levels that might be deemed in some places as cruel and unusual punishment. He now has seven homers and 21 RBIs in 13 games against the Mets this season, recording at least one hit in each of those games.
Murphy’s latest blast was his 17th of the season overall, leaving him with 66 RBIs, second-most in the National League. And it was just the first big hit for the Nationals on an afternoon in which the runs are being scored in rapid fire.
Wilson Ramos’ two-out hit off the wall in right-center brought home the Nationals’ third run of the day in the top of the third, though the rally was stopped dead in its tracks after Bryce Harper got caught in no-man’s land between third base and the plate.
Jose Reyes, meanwhile, has been a one-man wrecking crew so far today against Gio Gonzalez, homering in each of his first two at-bats. Gonzalez has managed to give up those bombs without anyone on base at the time, but he has labored through his first three innings, with a pitch count of 60.
The Nationals lead the Mets 3-2 after three.
Update: They’ve completed six innings here, and the Nats continue to hold their 3-2 lead. Gonzalez got better as his afternoon progressed, but his high pitch count got to him in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs and a man on first, Dusty Baker pulled his starter and summoned Tanner Roark out of the bullpen. Yes, Roark, who started four days ago but won’t be pitching again for a while thanks to the All-Star break. Roark did his job, getting a groundball to end the inning and send this game into the seventh inning.
Update II: The Nats led 3-2 after three innings, and that’s the way the score remained when the game ended. Roark wound up retiring seven batters out of the bullpen, bridging the gap to Jonathan Papelbon, who pitched the ninth for his 19th save in 21 tries. The Nats wind up taking three straight from the Mets to finish off the weekend and will go into the All-Star break with a six-game lead in the NL East.