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'Murphy' continues to curse Cubs

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy hits

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy hits a solo home run in the first inning during Game 1 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Whether Daniel Murphy is a part of the Mets' future is a matter for another day. On Saturday night, he firmly wrote his name into franchise history. At the start of the National League Championship Series, he tied a club record by hitting a homer in a third consecutive postseason game. Plus, he evoked the Cubs' link to Murphy's Law, which says whatever can go wrong, will.

As for the consecutive-game homer mark, he shares that distinction with Donn Clendenon, who long has been one of the leading figures in Mets lore. Clendenon did it in 1969, a remarkable postseason that ended with him being named the Most Valuable Player of the World Series.

For Murphy, Saturday night was not about an ending. He has rejected talk about his impending free agency and what has been seen as the likelihood that the Mets will not go to great lengths to keep him. After his stellar effort in Game 5 against the Dodgers on Thursday night -- three hits, a memorably alert stolen base and the series-clinching homer -- he said of his 2016 status, "We'll worry about that later."

Saturday night was about starts, for him and the Mets against the Cubs, and a continuation of his clutch power hitting against quality pitching. After the Division Series finale in Los Angeles, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said: "Daniel was a tough out all series. He's always to me been a guy that's been a tough out. Pretty much hits everybody's fastball. You've just got to kind of keep him off stride and get the ball in certain spots. Get in fastball counts with him and you know you're in trouble."

This time, Murphy launched a 1-and-1 pitch from Jon Lester into the rightfield seats in the first inning, setting a tone. That followed his three homers against Dodgers co-aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. His shot in the first Saturday night gave him four in six postseason games.

It belied Murphy's own explanation from Thursday: "Luck."

"I think Kevin Long gets a lot of credit," Terry Collins said, referring to the Mets' hitting coach. "He got him to pull the ball a little bit more, and he's hitting the ball over the fence. That's the kind of power [he has]. But Kevin saw it, and together they worked hard at it, and now Dan's doing what he's been doing."

Said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, "He's just a good hitter. He knows what he's doing at the plate. He's very good about not missing his pitch when he sees it. I know the ball has to look like a softball right now, at least. Maybe more to the beach ball variety. He's seeing everything that well.''

The mere sound of the word "Murphy" has long been a sore point for the Cubs. It was the name of the billy goat that was evicted -- along with its owner -- from Wrigley Field during the 1945 World Series. Legend has it that team owner Philip K. Wrigley did not appreciate the goat's hygiene. Billy Sianis, the goat's owner and proprietor of the Billy Goat Tavern, did not appreciate the ejection and reportedly put a curse on the franchise. The Cubs never have returned to the World Series since then.

It looked as if the first-place Cubs were heading there in 1969 until the Mets got Clendenon -- a transaction completed by general manager Johnny Murphy. So the Cubs have not been world champions since 1908, under owner Charles Murphy.

On Saturday night, they were clipped by a new kind of Murphy's Law. Daniel never had hit four homers in a six-game span all season. As Mets broadcast legend Bob Murphy would say, "Oh my."

New York Sports