NEW YORK -- During his first season with the Nationals in 2016, Daniel Murphy routinely punished his former team during each of their 19 matchups. That theme continued Sunday night at Citi Field, when Murphy hammered a grand slam in the first inning off Zach Wheeler to help the Nationals
NEW YORK -- During his first season with the Nationals in 2016, Daniel Murphy routinely punished his former team during each of their 19 matchups. That theme continued Sunday night at Citi Field, when Murphy hammered a grand slam in the first inning off Zach Wheeler to help the Nationals to a 6-3 victory.
After Murphy, who spent the first seven seasons of his career in New York, collected a hit in all 19 games against the Mets in 2016, he collected a pair Saturday night and then Sunday's homer. He is now batting 34-for-88 (.386) against his former team with eight home runs and 25 RBIs.
Murphy will not admit to taking any particular pride in his numbers against his former team or that he holds any grudges, saying that it is always good to play well against a divisional opponent. However, his teammates know putting up numbers against a former team has to be extra special.
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"He wants to beat their brains in," said Max Scherzer, who struck out 20 batters against his former team, the Tigers, last season. "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 in here to us or anything like that but he wants to beat them apart. That's the way this is, that's just the way this goes."
Murphy's home run came off Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler, his former teammate. It was only the second time in his career he homered on a fastball in the lower third of the strike zone that was thrown 96 mph or higher (the other was May 5, 2014). Even though Murphy used to play with Wheeler, who missed the past two seasons after Tommy John surgery, he said he did not pull on any of his old knowledge for this matchup.
Instead, Murphy watched video of Wheeler's starts from this year to help pick up a scouting report.
"Power fastball, really good breaking ball and it looked like he was throwing the change a little bit more," Murphy said. "I don't know. I thought I read somewhere where he was really filling out the strike zone this year. When he does that Zack's tough.
"They're tough at-bats and I thought he was good today. Fortunately, we were able to get to him and have some good at-bats early in the ballgame."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.