Murphy continues hot hitting with two homers

Mariners catcher has five blasts during a seven-game hitting streak

August 20th, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- It didn’t take long to make a good impression on the Mariners’ organization. It took him a fraction of that time to give the Rays a headache with another two-homer outburst on Monday night.

Murphy is slashing .480/.519/1.200 with a double, a triple, five homers and eight RBIs during his current seven-game hitting streak.

“I’m really happy for him,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “To the fact that I said if he hits a third one, I’m gonna do a cartwheel in the dugout.”

Murphy’s three-run home run officially opened the floodgates during Seattle’s 9-3 win at Tropicana Field that opened the three-game series. While several Mariners chipped in on the final product, the catcher’s long ball represented the opening salvo that saw Seattle chew through a gritty Tampa Bay pitching staff and rack up a hefty lead early.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” winning pitcher said. “Those first couple of long innings, you’ll take them when you know that our guys are swinging it. Just trying to get some confidence going off that, trying to fill the strike zone and let [the Rays] hit it.”

Murphy’s knock did indeed provide an early cushion his batterymate used to cruise to a career-high-tying 13th victory. It didn’t stop the backstop from adding a second homer, though, this one a solo shot to lead off the fifth inning to push the Mariners’ lead to 9-1.

“It’s been a lot of work,” Murphy admitted. “It’s one of those things where I’m not really satisfied too often with how it’s going, and [the coaches] are right there with me, always adding their input.”

The multi-homer game was the fourth of Murphy’s career and his second in a week: He also went deep twice on Tuesday against the Tigers. The 28-year-old has five round-trippers in his past three games, and 11 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs in his past 16 games. On Monday, he also joined Mike Zunino (2017) as the only catchers in Mariners history with at least three multi-homer games in a single season.

Servais said the same qualities that endeared Murphy to Seattle shortly after he arrived March 29 via trade with the Giants were the ones the newcomer used to sharpen his offense.

“He got with [hitting coach] Tim Laker, he worked diligently to clean up his swing path, to get it flattened to handle more balls in the zone,” Servais said. “He’s done it. He’s got real ability. He’s got power. He’s got all those other things you’re looking for. There are still things he wants to get better at offensively, but he’s been really good.”

“I was all in for anything [Laker] had for me because I knew it was a reputation and the guys he worked with in the past," Murphy said. "Same for Tony Arnerich as well, the catching coordinator. … It was one of those things that I wanted to get the most out of myself regardless of how much time I had already had in the big leagues. There were things I needed to work on, and those guys helped me a ton.”

The Mariners seemed to feed off his energy on Monday. Rookie homered in his third consecutive game and drove in three runs on two hits. His round-tripper marked Seattle’s 200th of the season, just the seventh time in history Mariners teams have hit the milestone. added a pair of hits and an RBI as Seattle pushed its lead to six after two innings and held steady the rest of the way.

Before landing with Seattle, Murphy spent parts of four seasons with the Rockies, with whom he hit .219 with 10 homers in 210 plate appearances. His new environment, coupled with extra hours logged with Laker, has seen him slug 15 homers in 188 plate appearances just this season.

It has also made him invaluable to the Mariners as they look ahead.

“Murph’s been a great addition to our team,” Servais said. “I know he’s very comfortable here, and he should be. He’s part of what we’re doing going forward, and he’s earned it.

“We acquired a guy we really didn’t know much about, an out-of-options catcher. He comes in, he’s got to figure some things out pretty quickly or we’re probably going to move on to the next guy. And he did from the minute he got here.”