Bill Ladson

Nationals fueled by Murphy's high-octane bat

Second baseman's 4 hits, RBIs pave way for series win over Royals

Nationals fueled by Murphy's high-octane bat

KANSAS CITY -- There is only one way to describe second baseman Daniel Murphy since he joined the Nationals last offseason. He has been perhaps the best pure hitter on the team.

In Wednesday's 13-2 pounding of the Royals, Murphy went 4-for-5, knocked in four runs and was a triple shy of the cycle in the rubber game at Kauffman Stadium.

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Entering Thursday's series opener against the Cubs, Murphy is hitting .398, which leads the Majors, with four home runs and 17 RBIs. Asked if this is the best start of his career, Murphy said, "The numbers on the board are the best start. I don't know if it's the best I ever felt. I try not to explain it too much."

Murphy didn't care much about getting the cycle. Before he took his last at-bat in the seventh inning, manager Dusty Baker reminded Murphy of the possible milestone, but all Murphy wanted was a quality at-bat. He flied out to right fielder Jarrod Dyson.

"I really didn't think about it, to tell you the truth," Murphy said of hitting for the cycle. "The skipper said something about it after the fourth at-bat. He said, 'You know how many times I've been short of the triple.' I was [just] looking for a pitch in my zone."

Hearing from teammate Bryce Harper, it's obvious that Murphy works hard before games.

"He sticks to his routine. It's something you want every teammate to have and he's got it," Harper said. "What he has done is truly incredible."

Baker already told his players to seek hitting advice from Murphy. Look for Stephen Strasburg, who improved to 5-0 with the victory, to seek out Murphy whenever he becomes a coach.

"Playing against him, you knew you were going to get a professional at-bat, but the biggest thing that I didn't know is that he is a high character guy, he is a great teammate," Strasburg said. "His baseball IQ is off the charts. He talks a lot about hitting. If I'm ever coaching at some point, I'm going to try to remember [the things he said about hitting]."

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.