MLB: Hot-hitting Sean Murphy leads A’s into battle with Nats

Sean Murphy hasn’t been looking for an overhaul to what he does at the plate, just some better results.

The Oakland Athletics catcher is starting to display more consistency, and it’s paying off.

Now he’ll try to build off a career-high, five-RBI performance when the visiting Athletics play the second game of their series against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.

The Athletics hold a three-game winning streak overall. They’ll be bidding to win back-to-back games during a third consecutive road trip.

Murphy could be a big part of that. He has collected at least one hit in 12 of his past 14 games. His second three-hit effort during that span came on Tuesday night in Oakland’s 10-6 victory.

“I’m not doing anything differently,” Murphy said. “I’m just doing what I do better. It’s just a process. It’s no big click (that changed things). I started to put some at-bats together and it snowballed from there.”

The Nationals and Athletics hold two of the worst records in the major leagues, so often things are snowballing in the wrong direction for these teams. Washington has lost six of its past eight games.

Oakland played for the first time ever at Nationals Park in the series opener, so putting up a double-digit run total for the fourth time this season was a significant achievement.

Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said he likes how the team is maintaining energy. This series is going to be a test of that against the struggling Nationals after just finishing a home series against the New York Yankees in a setting that was buzzing with energy.

To try to tame the suddenly hot Athletics, Washington will send left-hander Anibal Sanchez (0-5, 5.72 ERA) to the mound on Wednesday. Sanchez is coming off his first scoreless outing of the season, though he lasted only 4 1/3 innings on Aug. 24 against the host Seattle Mariners.

“He’s done well,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. “He gets right around that 80-pitch mark, that’s good. … That’s a testament to getting in that groove, fine-tuning your pitches. The one thing I can say about Anibal right now is he is keeping us in the ballgame.”

Sanchez is 2-3 with a 3.48 ERA in eight all-time starts against the Athletics.

Right-hander James Kaprielian (3-8, 4.88 ERA) will be Oakland’s starting pitcher as he tries to halt a personal three-game losing streak. He walked six batters in 2 2/3 innings in his latest start, a loss to the New York Yankees on Thursday, when he yielded eight runs on seven hits.

Kaprielian has never faced the Nationals.

The Nationals will look for more offense from rookie Joey Meneses, who hit three doubles on Tuesday. He is batting .348 across his first 23 games in the major leagues after his promotion earlier this month.

“The one thing for me is he’s going out there and playing with a lot of energy and playing with a lot of confidence,” Martinez said. “This is his opportunity and he’s taking full advantage of it.”

Washington posted more than three runs for the first time in eight games on Tuesday, so that could be an encouraging sign. The Nationals haven’t scored more than six runs in a game in August.

The Athletics will be without reliever Zach Jackson, who was placed on the 15-day injured list due to right shoulder inflammation.

–Field Level Media

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