MILWAUKEE -- If not for Ruben Tejada's diving stop, it would have been an RBI single for the Brewers' Jonathan Lucroy, and could have sparked a late rally. But it also took a fantastic turn by Daniel Murphy at second base to complete the crucial eighth-inning double play Friday night in the Mets' 7-3 win.
Modest about his defensive ability at second base, Murphy deflected praise to his fellow middle infielder.
"I think that showed how good Ruben Tejada is at shortstop," Murphy said. "He did all the work on that one. I got the feed and had enough time."
Whether you credit Tejada, Murphy or both, the play ultimately kept the Brewers off the scoreboard in the eighth inning after having two on and none out.
But the quick turn to get Lucroy at first base was the type of play that Murphy, who is in his first full season as a second baseman, may not have made a few months ago.
"Probably not," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "He's practiced and practiced and practiced. He's been so good around the bag. That's been the most impressive thing. We all know his hands are OK, but the footwork around the bag is something that, it just takes a while to get it. And he works at it so hard. He's done a good job."
Murphy's 15 errors ranks as the second most among National League second basemen, but his defense has been as good or better than the Mets could have expected.
The toughest plays for Murphy have been around the bag, whether covering second on stolen-base attempts or turning the double play. But he has made noticeable progress.
Murphy credits infield coach Tim Teufel, as well as fellow middle infielders Justin Turner and Tejada, for "really going out of their way" to help him with the transition.
"I'm excited about the strides I've made," Murphy said. "But I also understand there's still a lot of work I've got to do.
"Just making sure that I have my footwork right and making sure that I get to the bag on time. [That I get] in a position to protect myself, but also in a position to reward our catchers for a great throw."
Collins wants more from young arms than velocity
MILWAUKEE -- Not every fastball has to be 98 mph. That message is one Mets manager Terry Collins hopes to get across to young pitchers like Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia.
Collins used reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander as an example. While the Tigers' ace can touch triple digits on the radar gun, he doesn't do it with every pitch.
"All of a sudden when that guy gets in scoring position, his game amps up," Collins said. "The slider's no longer 88, it's 91. The fastball's no longer 94, it's 100."
Mejia, Harvey and Familia each sit in the mid-to-upper 90s with their fastballs. But they could be more effective and efficient with their pitches if they learn to vary their velocity in a Verlander-like fashion, getting easy outs at times and going for strikeouts at others.
Collins thinks each of the Mets' young pitchers could learn a lot from veteran ace Johan Santana.
"You've got to learn as you go," Collins said. "What a great time to have Santana here. What an impact he might have had on some of these young guys up here. Because that's one of the things he was a master at. Even now.
"It certainly will be exciting to see that group of guys next spring together, and have [Santana] mentor those guys."
Jordan Schelling is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.