No matter what comes next for Bill Murphy, the Ducks lefthander will always be able to claim two things: the first is pitching on a championship team, and the second is being able to say he retired the best home run hitter of all-time. Of the 79 batters he faced over 18 games in the major leagues, Murphy faced and retired Barry Bonds in 2007. He also won a Japanese World Series in 2010, pitching in three postseason games for the Chiba Lotte Marines. Now the 32-year old is starting for the Ducks, and although he had a rough first half, starting the season 0-10, he seems to be turning it around. We asked Murphy about his time in Japan, facing Barry Bonds and helping the Ducks make the playoffs in the second half of the season.
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How do you build off your recent success after struggling early?
"I'm trying to find a zone. My past four starts I've been getting stronger and in the second half to get a couple quality starts in and gaining some momentum in just trying to win that second half division. Me and are working hard to figure out all my pitches . . . And I've always been a guy that looks toward the next game anyway. Whatever happens in the first half doesn't bother me, I just worry about my next game.'
Tell me about playing in Japan with the Chiba Lotte Marines.
"I played there in 2010 and 2011 and it was a really good experience. My first year there we won the Japanese World Series and I learned a lot about a different culture. My wife came with me and we just enjoyed it. The people there are really good and it's a long season so I was there for about 10 months so you're really away from home for a while.
What was it like winning and playing in the Japan?
"I threw one game in each series , the first is a three-game series, and then they play five games in the second round and seven in the world series. They're weird about letting guys go, though. They took me out of a game in the world series after 42/3 innings and we were up 1-0. They have really short leashes with pitchers in the playoffs so I was 0-0, all three starts were no decisions. But it was awesome. It took a solid month and a half to finish the three series, they do it a little different, but it was a really good time."
What are the fans like in Japan?
"Their fans don't boo anyone, each team has their own cheering section and they're going the whole game for both sides. The fans are really good there, they get into it, they have bands playing so its definitely different."
Tell me about your brief stint in the majors.
"My first call up was in '07 with the Diamondbacks so obviously that was a real good experience. I was with the organization for awhile so I knew all the guys there, and then I came up with the Blue Jays in '09 and you just get to meet a lot of different people and it's a thrill to be able to play with the best."
What's your best memory of playing in the majors?
"When I was with the Diamondbacks my first couple times out they let me start a clean inning out of the bullpen and then the rest of the time I'd come in left on left or for matchups, and the first time I came in to get a lefty out was against Barry Bonds in San Francisco. He grounded out to second base with a man on second . . . so that's probably my best memory."