As a catcher, Tommy Murphy does not start every game. Still, he is making the most of every appearance, as a recent hot stretch might indicate.
Murphy homered in his fourth straight appearance Tuesday night though it was not enough to save his team. The Albuquerque Isotopes lost 5-4 to the Fresno Grizzlies in the opener of a four-game series.
This game’s home run was a two-run shot in the second inning that gave Albuquerque (51-66) a brief lead. Before that he had homered last Wednesday and then Saturday and Sunday.
“I’m just being consistent with my preparation for the most part,” Murphy said. “I come here every day with a plan and try to work on something. (Hitting coach Dave Hajek) has been great, everybody has been very helpful on the coaching staff. That’s what I attribute it to for right now.”
In 14 Triple-A games, Murphy now has five home runs and five doubles out of his 18 total hits. He wasn’t exactly slouching at Double-A New Britain, either, with 17 doubles and 13 home runs out of 66 hits down there.
“He’s got good balance, he’s got good rhythm, he’s got great timing,” manager Glenallen Hill said. “He’s working hard with Haj, myself, and I think just relaxing. He’s a guy who gives 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. That can be an Achilles heel.”
The rest of Murphy’s night was fairly forgettable, however, as he went 0-for-3 the rest of the way. It was similar to how things went for the rest of the Isotopes, who could not get anything going offensively against the Grizzlies (68-48).
Fresno took the lead in the third by scoring three runs with two outs. After Max Stassi struck out and Nolan Fontana flew out, Jonathan Villar singled and L.J. Hoes walked.
Villar then stole third base and scored when Alex Presley singled through the right side. Matt Duffy followed with a two-run triple to right-center.
Albuquerque tied it up in the bottom of the inning on Cristhian Adames’ RBI single. Fresno then scored twice in the fourth to take the lead for good.
The Isotopes’ last gasp came in the seventh as Roger Bernadina hit a two-out RBI double to left-center. He was left stranded as Murphy grounded out to second base.
Spot starter Rudy Owens (0-5) gave up five runs on seven hits and one walk in four innings. He got the nod after David Hale was pushed back a day, presumably due to the possibility of a rainout for the Rockies that never occurred in New York.
Overall it was a somewhat listless performance by the Isotopes. It was also the start of a brutal finishing stretch to the season where they will play 28 games in 28 days.
“It’s really important that players at this point in the season finish strong,” Hill said. “A lot of good things can happen at the end of the season in terms of figuring something out.
“And the flip side of that is if you’re having a good season and you let your guard down, you can turn a good season into a bad season. I had that conversation with these guys three weeks ago.”
Albuquerque and Fresno will continue their series on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. Hale (0-2, 6.41 ERA) will start for the Isotopes against Grizzlies right-hander Mark Appel (1-2, 4.62), the No. 1 pick from the 2013 draft who dominated Albuquerque last week.