Daniel Murphy finally on track at plate

MIAMI -- Daniel Murphy knows it will be a long climb to reach his customary batting totals. The past two days have been a start in the right direction, though.

A day after doubling twice and producing two RBIs in the Subway Series finale in the Bronx, Murphy smashed a three-run homer in the ninth against closer Steve Cishek to lift the New York Mets to a 3-1 win against the Miami Marlins on Monday night.

"I'm not going to wake up tomorrow, no matter what I do, and be hitting .290," Murphy said. "So it's just one at-bat at a time. That's all I can control right now."

Murphy had made a weekend adjustment. With encouragement from hitting coach Kevin Long, Murphy moved closer to the plate so pitchers could not exploit him with pitches away.

"We've been playing with that and trying to get comfortable in there," Murphy said. "It's always nice to hit some balls hard once you make an adjustment. So hopefully it's something we'll continue working on. One at-bat at a time. I know it's a cliché. But I'm not going to go 15-for-4 tomorrow."

Asked if the adjustment had helped him particularly with the ninth-inning at-bat against Cishek, Murphy maintained that he was not sure because he had "no idea where the pitch was."

Said Murphy: "I didn't even know if it was a heater or not. They told me it was. I wasn't sure. I don't know if that's good or bad, but we'll take it."

Manager Terry Collins has suggested that Murphy's lack of Grapefruit League at-bats because of a hamstring strain has contributed to the slow start to the season. Even with Monday's ninth-inning homer, he still is hitting a modest .174.

Murphy senses things have started to turn, though.

"I'm hitting it on the barrel," he said. "That seems to be different than it was the first part of the season. I wasn't hitting a lot of stuff on the barrel. Even tonight, I hit a ball hard at [second baseman] Dee [Gordon]. And I was fortunate to have that at-bat in the ninth. Two barrels is different than probably the first 15 games of the year."

Collins said Murphy's blast was vitally important for the Mets after a four-error game Sunday against the Yankees in a rubber-game loss. After that defeat, the Mets dragged into Miami. They did not arrive at their hotel until 4:20 a.m.

"This was a tough day for us," Collins said. "After all of the hoopla of the last weekend and getting in early this morning, to come out and win this ballgame was big. … We're tired. Make no mistake about it. We're stinkin' beat. And when you can have that surge of energy, that's a huge pick-me-up."