LOS ANGELES - If not for Juan Uribe's chest muscle injury, Daniel Murphy probably wouldn't have started Friday night's opener of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium. Terry Collins said as much before the game.
But these are the 2015 Mets. Bad things turn into good things.
Murphy not only started against Clayton Kershaw but was the Mets' cleanup hitter and one of three lefthanded-swinging position players who did well against the Dodgers' lefty ace.
Leading off the fourth inning in a scoreless game, Murphy crushed a 2-and-0 pitch into the Mets' bullpen in rightfield for a home run in his second postseason at-bat.
The Mets went on to a 3-1 victory behind Jacob deGrom, who struck out 13 in seven shutout innings.
Collins had planned for weeks to have Murphy, Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda start against Kershaw even though, in the regular season, Kershaw held lefthanded batters to a .203 average.
Of course, righties hit .192 against him.
"I've looked at Clayton Kershaw's numbers against righthanded hitters," Collins said. "They're outstanding. So it really doesn't matter, to me, where you hold the bat. You better get in there and get a good pitch to hit, and I think our lefties can do that."
They did. Murphy, Granderson and Duca combined to reach base six times in 10 plate appearances against Kershaw with four hits and two walks.
Along with Murphy's home run, Granderson had two singles and a key walk. Duda went 1-for-2 with a walk.
"My first at-bat, he chewed me up and spit me out," Murphy said. "That's kind of what it looked like. I got a lot of sliders that I didn't see well and he put me away with them fairly easily. The next at-bat, I was able to get my foot down just a little earlier. Got a 2-and-0 heater in the middle of the plate and I was fortunate to put a good swing on it."
Said Collins: "They're our best hitters. And you put them in the game against a great pitcher, and tonight they had four hits. So I have all the confidence that they can go up there and put a good at-bat on. And that's all you can ask anybody. Against Clayton Kershaw, if you have all righthanders against him and he gets into a groove, he'll carve you up. So you've got to give him something different to look at, in my opinion."
The lefties contributed later, too.
Duda opened the seventh inning with a walk and advanced to second on a groundout. Kershaw also walked Ruben Tejada before deGrom -- also a lefthanded batter -- sacrificed both runners along.
Granderson walked on a 3-and-2 pitch to load the bases. With Kershaw at 113 pitches, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly called on righthander Pedro Baez to face David Wright.
Wright, who spent most of the summer in Los Angeles getting treatment for spinal stenosis, lined a 3-and-2 pitch just out of the reach of second baseman Howie Kendrick and into centerfield for a two-run single and a 3-0 Mets lead.