Daniel Murphy’s first-inning grand slam Sunday night fueled the Nationals’ 6-3 win over the Mets, which completed Washington’s three-game weekend sweep at Citi Field, and Murphy’s teammates and coaches have a theory explaining why he’s so dominant when he plays New York.
“He wants to beat their brains in,” Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer said of the Mets, Murphy’s former team, per the New York Post.
Murphy plays down the notion that he has a chip on his shoulder when he plays the Mets. But based on his performances against them, there may be something to it.
Murphy hit in all 19 games against the Mets last season for a .413 average (31-of-75) with seven homers, six doubles and 21 RBIs. Since departing the Mets after the 2015 season, Murphy is batting .386 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 22 games against them.
Mets fans apparently don’t appreciate the way their former hero treats them – they booed him Sunday night, according to ESPN.com.
Murphy accounts for his anti-Mets accomplishments by saying he’s motivated when facing division rivals and that he’s comfortable playing at Citi Field. His Nats teammates and manager Dusty Baker aren’t buying it.
“You’re always motivated against a division rival. You’re going to play these guys 19 times,” Murphy said. “When you play a division team, one team goes in one direction and one goes in the other one. So the games are of the utmost importance.
He added of the Queens ballpark, "Come here and things are familiar. I don't know if that [wanting to beat the Mets] has anything to do with it," Murphy said.
Baker countered, “It definitely matters. Guys say it doesn’t matter, but it matters. It mattered for me when I faced the Braves when I got traded from the Braves.”
Added Scherzer, Sunday night's winning pitcher, "He won’t say anything, and he won’t say anything to us. It’s not like he’s in here boasting that he wants to beat the Mets, but he wants to beat them apart.”
It won’t take long to put Baker and Scherzer’s theory to another test – the Nats (13-5) host the Mets (8-11) for another three-game weekend series beginning Friday.