The Mets enter the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak and six games behind the Nationals in the NL East.
Yet they never could have predicted the damage the second baseman would inflict on them.
"We're still in the race", manager Terry Collins said following the Mets' 3-2 loss to the Nationals Sunday at Citi Field. We're banged up. It's why we're taking the four days [of the All-Star break] and, hopefully recuperate. We've been in this situation one year ago.
"Very pleased with the first half we had", said first-year Nationals manager Dusty Baker.
The pitching has carried the Mets for the past two years, but it appears that the Mets defenses are slowly falling and they will need to find a way to scratch across wins in the meantime as they now have something to rally around going into the crucial second half of the season. NY sliced the lead to three games Thursday. but couldn't inch any closer.
So do the Mets, who drafted Murphy in the 10th round of the 2006 draft.
After Murphy opened the first inning with a two-run homer, Reyes responded with his first leadoff home run in more than two years. The 30-year old lefthander tossed 5.2 innings on two runs on four hits, in getting his fifth win. Ben Revere had an RBI triple and Clint Robinson lofted a sacrifice fly for the Nationals.Right-hander Max Scherzer (10-6) picked up the win after allowing an unearned run, three hits and two walks while striking out nine in seven innings.Neil Walker had a sacrifice fly in the first for the Mets and Alejandro De Aza reached base in all three plate appearances via two singles and a walk.Right-hander Logan Verrett (3-6) took the loss in his first start since replacing injured Matt Harvey in the Mets' rotation.
If the New York Mets could hit the restart button on Friday, they'd do it in a heartbeat.
"All I can say is there's a lot of baseball left", Cespedes said through a translator.
And that is expected, because 14 other teams are making sure the Mets do not repeat as National League champions and that 47-41 record at the half, with 74 games remaining may mean to assure that the Mets get back to full strength. The offense took over after acquiring Cespedes on July 31, and the team quickly made up its division deficit to surge past Washington.
"Dan Murphy is a student of hitting", Collins said. "So we're upbeat and we're going to take the rest and get ready for the second half".
3-2 in the final game of this four game series.
Said Collins: "I really believe the more Jose is in the lineup, the more he gets accustomed to what's going on at this level, at this speed, after having some time off, I think he's going to be a big factor". He also did not play Saturday.
He is now hitting.438 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 12 games against his former team.
Reyes led off the game with a shot to tie Curtis Granderson for the franchise lead with 17 lead-off homers, then tucked a change-up inside the left field foul pole in the third inning. Both runs came on solo homers by Jose Reyes, who had three total in the series.
It's the last day before the All-Star break, and teams are hoping their players stay healthy through one more game.
This time Murphy's victim was Steven Matz, who was nowhere near as good this time as he was against the Nationals in D.C. on May 25. With a chance to hit for the cycle in the eighth, Murphy worked an eight-pitch walk. But I was happy that I was able to get us nearly through the seventh inning. "Everything for me is starting to get together, and now I have four days off", he said. "For me I don't want that right now". His single came right before Murphy's homer, and he also scored in the third inning on Ramos' double.