- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2017

Daniel Murphy has had it all going for him as of late.

He has had a hit in every game to start the season and was presented before Friday’s Nationals win against the Phillies with the MLBPA’s National League Most Outstanding Player, an award chosen last season by his peers. The Nationals marked the occasion with a giveaway of Murphy bobbleheads at the beginning of the game.

It’s fitting then, that Friday’s 3-2 win over Philadelphia (3-7) ended on a Murphy walk-off double in the 10th.

But someone should tell Murphy he’s allowed to be excited about it.

“It’s a good win,” Murphy said. “Yeah. Good win. We’ll try to do it again tomorrow.”

If Murphy can do what he did Friday every day, the Nationals will be winning a lot of games.

Murphy finished 2 of 5, extended his hitting streak to 10 games and delivered when it mattered most. He’s batting .444.

The Nationals (6-4) struggled to convert runs in situations for most of the game, but took advantage when they had the heart of the lineup on deck to start the 10th.

Murphy’s double to deep left field brought home Bryce Harper, on base after a single to shallow right. By now, it’s quickly becoming business as usual.

“You’re never overly impressed with Murphy because you’ve seen it day in and day out,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You don’t take him for granted. … That hit to left really doesn’t surprise me because that’s his bread and butter. This is how he made his living prior to him hitting the ball out of the ballpark from the playoffs to today.

“When a guy goes to the opposite field with authority, that’s hard to teach.”

Before Murphy’s heroics, the Nationals struggled to find a way to break the game open. Washington left 10 runners on base — five of them in scoring position.

Before they could get to Murphy’s extra-innings heroics, the Nationals needed help.

They got it from Anthony Rendon, who broke out of his beginning-of-the-season slump with a double to deep right in the seventh, bringing home Chris Heisey from second to tie the game.

The Nationals had trailed since the fifth, when Phillies center fielder Cesar Hernandez singled to center, scoring Cameron Rupp from third to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.

It was one of the only mistakes that Stephen Strasburg made in his third start of the year. The other was giving up his first home run of the season in the second inning to Tommy Joseph.

Strasburg delivered a solid performance, throwing 111 pitches, striking out eight in the process and only allowing five hits in seven innings.

“Going out there for the seventh inning, every time, I think that’s something that I want to try and as much as I can is go deep into the ball game and keep it close and give the guys a chance to win the game,” Strasburg said.

The Nats also got a better performance from the three pitchers who came in after Strasburg — particularly Shawn Kelley (1-0), who shut the Phillies down in the top of the 10th.

He said he was aware that the trio of Harper, Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman were waiting.

“I know if I go out there and I do my job that’s a big momentum shift with our guys coming up,” said Kelley, who struck out two in a 1-2-3 inning. “I’ve seen enough baseball to know when extra innings when the heart of order comes up at home you got a good chance to win a game.”

It set the stage for Murphy.

“He might do better than he did last year which is hard to believe,” Kelley said. “That guy is special. I want to be like him when I get older. I tell you that.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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