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MJL456 Oct 9
NEW YORK -- Daniel Murphy is torching major league pitching and no one is burned more than his former New York Mets teammates. Washington Nationals Store .Murphy, who is leading the majors in hitting, homered for the sixth time this year against the Mets, drove in four runs, leading Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals over New York 6-1 Saturday night.Oh my gosh, how many superlatives can you say? Scherzer said when asked about Murphy. This guy is just absolutely hitting the cover off the ball. He just understands what he is doing at the plate. He has such a great feel for the strike zone and when he gets his pitch, he hits it, and he is hitting these guys pretty good.Murphy had a run-scoring single in the third inning, an RBI double in the fifth and launched his 16th home run in the seventh. He is hitting .349 overall -- hes batting .438 (21 of 48) with 19 RBI against the Mets after becoming a free agent in the offseason and signing with Washington.Murphy refused to discuss his accomplishments against the team that he led to the NL pennant.His focus was on the Nationals, their season and winning this four-game series, with the Nats leading 2-1. Even being booed at Citi Field didnt seem to draw a reaction.I guess it means you are doing something to help your ballclub win a game, against that team, Murphy said. Thats the way I look at it.The NL East leaders now have a five-game lead on the Mets. At 53-36, they set a team record for wins before the All-Star break, snapping the mark from 2005, the clubs first season in Washington after the move from Montreal.Nationals manager Dusty Baker did not understand the booing. He added Murphys hitting reminded him of some of the great players he either played with or managed -- Orlando Cepeda, Rico Carty, Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent and Moises Alou..He is not missing much, Baker said. His concentration level is beyond compare right now.Baker is not surprised that Murphy has hit the Mets.Anybody who has gotten traded or came back to play their old team, definitely it means a lot to them, Baker said.Mets manger Terry Collins said Murphy is taking advantage of mistakes.You know, hes pumped up to play against us and show us we made a mistake, Collins said. Thats human nature and its part of the game. We just got to make better pitches. Were giving him balls to hit. They were good pitches to hit. Weve got to do a better job.Scherzer (10-6) gave up three hits and an unearned run in seven innings. He joined fellow Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg (12-0) in having 10 wins before the All-Star break.Logan Verrett (3-6) gave up five runs on only four hits in 6 2/3 innings, but he was hurt by walks. His first three all scored, including one to Scherzer.The Mets staked Verrett to a lead in the first. Jose Reyes drew a leadoff walk, Curtis Granderson followed with a single and both runners advanced on left fielder Jayson Werths throwing error back to the infield.Scherzer minimized the damage, giving up a sacrifice fly to Neil Walker and striking out Asdrubal Cabrera and Brandon Nimmo. The hard-throwing righty cruised the rest of the way, fanning nine.THE EYE HAS IT:After walking Alejando De Aza with two outs in the seventh, Baker considered taking out Scherzer. He went to the mound and asked the righty how he felt. The pitcher said he was still strong and wanted to finish the inning.Baker wanted to see the look in Scherzers eye to confirm that, so he asked the pitcher which eye he should look at. Scherzer has a blue eye and a brown one.He said the expletive brown eye, Baker said with a laugh. The pitcher stayed in and got Travis dArnaud on a liner to left.Scherzer explained after the game, the brown eye, his left one, is his pitching eye.DE AZA STARTS: De Aza started for Cespedes in center field and and had two singles and a walk. He struck out to end the game with a heavy rain starting to fall and the fans getting up to leave.TRAINERSS ROOMNationals: Baker expects Joe Ross (7-4) to return to the roster after the All-Star break, but he did not have an exact dathe te. Ross was placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier this month with right shoulder inflammation.Mets: Noah Syndergaard (arm fatigue) and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (strained right quadriceps) are not going to play in the All-Star Game in San Diego. Both will attend Tuesdays game. There was no definitive word on how long they will be out, but Collins indicated that neither injury was major.UP NEXTWashingtons Gio Gonzalez (4-8, 4.79 ERA) pitches Sunday against Steven Matz (7-4, 3.34) in a matchup of lefties. Gonzalez has lost seven of his last eight decisions, but he is 7-1 in his career at Citi Field, with a win this year. Matz has lost his last three decisions. Tanner Rainey Jersey . Catch all the action on TSN2 at 11pm et/8pm pt. The nine-time Big 12 champion Jayhawks are positioning themselves for another title, as they have run out to a flawless 6-0 mark in conference play thus far. Kyle McGowin Jersey . -- Stanfords Kevin Danser knelt on one knee and hardly moved on the sideline as Michigan State celebrated its Rose Bowl victory and his Cardinal teammates made their way to the locker room. https:///...ersey-nationals.html . With the first unit struggling of late and Amir Johnson - one of the teams iron men - hobbling on an injured right ankle, Patterson knew he could get the nod in a challenging matchup against one of the leagues up and coming players at his position. CHICAGO -- It was the party of a lifetime. Except somebody must have invited the Cleveland Indians.In the streets of Wrigleyville, the beverages flowed at 8 in the morning. Scalpers peddled their $3,000 tickets. Bill Murray carefully studied the inspirational stylings of Daffy Duck. And at the park, 41,703 people burst through the gates of Wrigley, hearts pounding, tears flowing, families embracing.It was a beautiful moment in baseball history, all right. Except somebody must have invited the Cleveland Indians.Whatever script the rest of the world was sure it had handed them in this World Series, the Indians forgot to read it. Then they went out Friday night, flipped that script and took control of a World Series that way too many others had decided the Cubs had already won.Well, guess what, America? After a shocking 1-0 victory at an emotional Wrigley Field on Friday, this is now the Indians World Series to lose. They lead, two games to one. They have their ace, Corey Kluber, lined up to start Game 4. And they could lose the next two games and still get to bring this series back to Cleveland.So all of a sudden, the Indians are in perfect position to do to the Cubs what theyve been doing throughout this entire month of October, first to Red Sox Nation, then to an actual nation (i.e., Canada). Yes, theyre poised once again to break millions of hearts.I love it, said Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, a man who grew up outside of Chicago, dreaming of playing in a World Series at Wrigley Field. I hope we break all of them. I hope we break every single one of them. I hope I come home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, the offseason, and I just want to have a smile on my face when I look at all these Cubs fans.Well, theres a long way to go and two more games to win before Kipnis and his buddies can start smiling. But heres how good a spot theyre in:According to the invaluable website Whowins.com, when the visiting team takes a 2-games-to-1 lead in the World Series, it wins that series 71.1 percent of the time (32 of 45). If we include all best-of-seven postseason series, that figure jumps to 76.1 percent (54 of 71).So while we would never advise you to confuse those odds with, say, 100 percent, the Indians were well aware Friday night just how beautiful a thing it was to find themselves only two wins away from their franchises first title in 68 years.Its better than three wins away, said the man who drove in the winning (and only) run in this game, Coco Crisp. Thats for sure.There have been times this week when the Indians werent too sure they were supposed to be any number of wins away, considering how little theyve come up in the World Series conversation. And once the series headed for Chicago this weekend, for the first time since 1945, they kept watching TV, if only to make sure they hadnt been eliminated yet.So after two days of taking in wall-to-wall Cubs coverage, theyd decided it was kind of fun to assume the role of that other team in this World Series.Im surprised theyre not calling us that, to be honest, Kipnis deadpanned. Theres so much Cubs talk, on ESPN and all that stuff, that we actually appreciate it. We like to go under the radar. Weve been the underdogs the whole time -- in every series. Thats fine by us. Well just be that other team that won the World Series.Asked whether they look at themselves as underrated or underappreciated, Kipnis replied, pointedly: What do you think?You havent heard anything about us, he said. Weve probably got guys coming off the bench you dont even know the names of. So we like to just worry about ourselves and go play the game of baseball and compete. And thats all were caring about right now.But theres something else these Indians clearly dont care about -- and thats how they win. Theyve played 11 games in this postseason and scored 35 runs. But theyre 9-2 in those 11 games -- thanks to a pitching staff that has now thrown five shutouts, the most by any team in a single postseason in history.Three of those shutouts havee come in games started by Kluber. Jake Noll Jersey. But in the other two, the starters -- Josh Tomlin on Friday night and Ryan Merritt in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series -- didnt even make it through the fifth inning.But game after game, their manager, Terry Francona, keeps proving hell do whatever he has to do to win that night. And with every move that turns out right, his team seems to believe a little more that something is happening here that is bigger than them, bigger than Cleveland and bigger than Americas rush to anoint the Cubs before theyve actually won anything.Im confident in anything he does, first baseman Mike Napoli said of his manager, because it seems to work every time. No one questions anything in our dugout. Whenever he does something, everyone is for it.So when Francona zigzagged through this dramatic night by hooking Tomlin for Andrew Miller with two outs in the fifth, then pinch hitting for Miller in the top of the seventh, then getting a game-winning broken-bat pinch hit out of Crisp -- a man who went 0-for-8 as a pinch hitter during the regular season -- it fit right into the crazy quilt of a remarkable October for both this manager and his resilient baseball team.The Indians werent supposed to beat the Red Sox in the division series -- and swept them. Then came the mighty Blue Jays in the ALCS -- and down went the Jays in five games. And now, this team couldnt be more comfortable with the prospect of crashing yet another party.Ive said this before, Kipnis said. But facing Big Papi in his farewell tour in Boston, the crowd got real loud there at the end, when he tried to pump them up. Then going to Toronto inside the dome, thats probably the loudest place in all the league. And now you have the entire city of Chicago, in their first World Series in a long time.We probably faced three of the louder crowds you can face, he said, and three of the tougher competitions and tougher lineups. It just adds to the storyline. It just adds to the grit of this team and the competitiveness and drive that weve got going. And were on a mission right now.Now the mission continues in Game 4, with the Indians pitching lined up perfectly. They have Kluber, one of this sports most underrated studs, ready to start it. He is coming off a Game 1 in which he was forced to throw just 88 pitches. And his 0.74 October ERA has been almost?Madison Bumgarner-esque.Meanwhile, there will be no questions before this game about whether Miller will be able to come back for the second day in a row -- since the Indians were able to get him out of Game 3 after just 17 pitches.You know what? In all honesty, it helps, pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. It helps that he didnt throw 46 pitches. So hes going to be ready to go tomorrow [Saturday] night. And were looking forward to Kluber being out there.But heres the biggest secret of the Indians sensational October. It may have seemed, from afar, as though their only hope to win was to somehow steal a win in this series in a game Kluber didnt start (which theyve now done, of course). But thats actually all theyve been doing through the entire postseason.Their record in the seven games started by pitchers who arent named Corey Kluber? That would be 6-1.So those Cleveland Indians cant wait to get back to beautiful Wrigley Field on Saturday. They know the streets will be jumping, the refreshments will be flowing, the ticket prices will be soaring and the Cubs will still be the talk of the town -- and every town. But heres what else the Indians know:The pressure is on them, Kipnis said. All you hear is everyone talking about the Cubs. And it just allows us to get ready for each ballgame because we dont have to worry about expectations or living up to certain things. We can just play the game of baseball.So play it they will -- whether theyre invited to the latest big October bash or not. ' ' '