LOS ANGELES - Through the years, as he did whatever the Mets asked of him, there were times when all that Daniel Murphy wanted was to be noticed. On Thursday night, he wanted just the opposite.
"Don't see me. That's what I was thinking,'' Murphy said amid a torrent of champagne in the Mets' clubhouse after they clinched their National League Division Series against the Dodgers, 3-2, with Murphy the key factor in all three runs.
He was referring specifically to a heads-up play in the fourth inning. After leading off with a single, he calmly walked toward second base on a one-out walk to Lucas Duda, then took off like crazy to third with all of the Dodgers' infielders on the other side of second base because of the overshift against Duda. He made it easily and came home on Travis d'Arnaud's sacrifice fly to rightfield, tying the score and helping the Mets reach the National League Championship Series.
"I'm not fleet afoot, but I was fast enough,'' said the former 13th-round draft pick who has been a Met his entire career, playing leftfield, first base, third base and second base -- whatever the Mets needed at the time.
On Thursday night, in a climactic Game 5, he gave them more than they could have dreamed of. He hit a double in the first inning, driving in Curtis Granderson. In the sixth, he accounted for the series-winning run with a home run against Zack Greinke, Murphy's third against the Dodgers' co-aces: two against Clayton Kershaw and one against Greinke.
But everyone around the Mets was talking about Murphy's smart move to catch the Dodgers sleeping and take third.
"Ninety feet are so important in the postseason,'' Murphy said.
Sometimes the club has been left scratching its head about things Murphy does on the field -- Murph being Murph, they call it -- but this time he was way ahead of everyone.
"That was all Daniel Murphy,'' Terry Collins said. "That tells you what a player Daniel Murphy is. I've been around Daniel Murphy for six years. He's a baseball player. He's a baseball junkie. He always plays all out.''
Murphy was reluctant to do much basking. He praised Duda for working the walk that allowed him to take third. He said the series victory against the Kershaw-Greinke tandem was testimony to the quality of the Mets' pitching staff. He also spoke of a higher power. In the late innings, he said, "There was a lot of praying going on. I was just asking for peace.''
As far as his own feelings were concerned, he said, "I feel adjectives are going to fall way short tonight.
"It's such a great group of guys, and has been since the first day of spring training. Right from the top, they gave us pieces,'' he said, referring to deals that brought Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. "This means something to all of us. Everybody had a huge part in this.''
Surely, though, it has got to mean something special for somebody who has been with the team through down years, who has been loyal, who might not even be here next year because he is a free agent?
Nah, he wasn't going down that road. He didn't want to be noticed for heroics.
"Sometimes,'' Murphy said, "you get lucky.''