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Even Daniel Murphy is surprised about his first half-season with Nats

Even Daniel Murphy is surprised about his first half-season with Nats

NEW YORK (AP) -- Daniel Murphy keeps turning those Citi Field boos into booms.

Murphy hit his seventh home run this year against the team that let him go last winter, lining an early drive off the facing of the upper deck and leading the Washington Nationals over the New York Mets 3-2 Sunday.

"That guy's the real deal. He's definitely a cyborg right now," winning pitcher Gio Gonzalez said.

"You don't know what to throw him," he said. "You might have to throw him pingpong balls."

Murphy tops the majors with a .348 batting average at the All-Star break, boosted by the damage he's done to the Mets. He homered three times and drove in 10 runs as the NL East leaders took three of four in this series, opening a six-game edge over New York.

Murphy, as usual, deflected any notion he's the main reason his team is soaring.

"Carry it? No, no, no," he said. "The list is too many. Just a small piece of it."

As for his own impressive first half that includes 46 extra-base hits and 66 RBIs?

"I would say I'm surprised," Murphy said.

Murphy connected in the first inning for his 17th homer this year. Overall, he is 22 for 52 (.423) with 21 RBIs vs. his old club.

"I don't think it's just against us. He's hitting like .350," losing pitcher Steven Matz said.

"I don't have any answer," he said.

If there's any consolation for Mets manager Terry Collins, he'll soon have Murphy back on his side, albeit for just a day -- Collins is guiding the NL team in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night in San Diego, and Murphy is on the squad.

The Nationals posted their 54th win, matching the 1994 Montreal Expos for the most in franchise history before the break.

"Very pleased with the first half we had," said first-year Nationals manager Dusty Baker. "We know we can get even better."

Jose Reyes hit two home runs for the Mets, including a leadoff shot in the first inning. He connected in his first two at-bats, then took three wild swings his next time up and struck out.

Gonzalez (5-8) pitched into the sixth as the Nats won their third straight against the Mets and beat them for the ninth time in 13 matchups this year. The lefty had lost seven of his previous eight decisions, but regained his touch in a ballpark where he's now 8-1.

Tanner Roark made his first relief appearance of the season, replacing Gonzalez and retiring seven straight batters. He went seven innings last Wednesday for a win.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his 19th save in 21 chances. His 368th career save moved him past Jeff Reardon into ninth place on the all-time list.

Matz (7-5) fell to 0-4 in his last eight starts. He gave up an RBI single to All-Star Wilson Ramos in the third that put Washington ahead 3-1, and left after the seventh.

It took Murphy less than two months to go from valued ex-player to villain at his former home. Murphy drew two standing ovations and got a video tribute when he returned for the first time in mid-May.

The longtime second baseman whose playoff slugging helped the Mets reach the World Series last year got jeered every time he came to the plate on this afternoon. He managed to make at least one new fan, however -- after chasing down a popup that landed in foul territory, he pointed to a young person in the stands and tossed the souvenir that way.

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE