WASHINGTON (AP) – The Washington Nationals are no longer shocked by the kind of offensive performance Daniel Murphy gave on Tuesday night.
Amazed, maybe. But not shocked.
In his latest impressive game, Murphy homered, doubled twice and tied career highs with five RBIs and four hits to help the Nationals to an 8-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Is he really surprising you?” Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez said. “He’s unreal. Right now he’s a human torch. You can’t touch him.”
Matt Wieters and Jayson Werth also hit solo shots as Washington followed up a 14-6 series opening win Monday with another onslaught.
It was more than enough support for Gonzalez (1-0), who allowed two runs – one earned – over seven innings and retired his last 11 batters.
His first clean inning came after Wieters’ and Werth’s solo shots gave Washington a 4-2 lead in the fourth. His second after Murphy blasted a two-run shot off Lance Lynn into the upper deck to make it 6-2 in the fifth.
“Gio’s had a little trouble in the past with the shutdown inning after we score,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker. “And he gave up the one and didn’t give them any more. And then he shut them down the rest of the way.”
Murphy is batting .472 with five doubles, two homers and an MLB-leading 17 hits in the cleanup spot. This after he finished second in the 2016 NL MVP race with a .347 average, 25 homers and 104 RBIs in his first season in Washington.
“He’s talking about the craziest stuff I’ve ever heard of before,” Werth said of Muprhy’s approach. “I try not to listen to him, but it’s working for him. … If I tried to do that I might never get a hit.”
Murphy pointed out that Nats’ No. 3 hitter Bryce Harper is almost equally hot. Harper walked three times against Lynn to reach base in nine straight plate appearances going back to Monday. He later doubled.
“You look at the at-bats that Bryce is having – three walks tonight and a double down the left-field line (tonight),” Murphy said. “He’s so dangerous right now.”
Lynn (0-1) allowed six runs – four earned – and five hits and four walks over five innings. Randal Grichuk and Aldemys Diaz homered for St. Louis, and Jose Martinez went 2 for 4 in his first start.
“You look at their lineup and they’re all going about as good as they can go,” Lynn said. “When you see that lineup you know that they’re capable of that. I made three mistakes and it cost my three home runs.”