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‘Baseball rat’ Daniel Murphy helps beat Tigers 8-2 in Cubs debut

Daniel Murphy of the Chicago Cubs.

DETROIT — That didn’t take long.

The first day the Cubs installed former Cubs killer Daniel Murphy at the top of their lineup, they broke out of a hitting slump so deep that the 8-2 victory against the Tigers included more than a week’s worth of runs.

Well, the past week anyway. The Cubs scored five runs total in the five games since they left Wrigley Field last week for a six-game trip.

And they even scored two of those runs without the benefit of a home run, with Murphy providing one of the two run-scoring singles during a three-run fifth.

By the time he lined a second single to right in the ninth, a few Cubs fans behind the first-base dugout began chanting, “Murphy! Murphy!”

Three pitches later, Murphy scored on Javy Baez’s three-run homer (which was followed by Anthony Rizzo’s second homer in as many nights).

Now all the new guy has to do is win over the Wrigley faithful who have spent much of the last three seasons dreading the mere sight of him and lustily booing, especially after his 9-for-17, four-homer performance in the 2015 National League Championship Series helped the Mets eliminate the Cubs in a sweep.

“They were more muffled after the [championship] experiences in 2016,” said Murphy, who was acquired Tuesday in a trade from the Nationals. “But it was interesting coming in, in 2016 during the regular season. They weren’t super-muffled then.

“I’m excited to put on the blue uniform.”

If it’s anything like 2008, when the Cubs acquired ex-Cardinal Jim Edmonds for a playoff run, Murphy won’t have much trouble winning over the home crowd.


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Especially with more multi-hit games — and victories — like Wednesday’s. And especially if he keeps up a career trend that includes a lifetime .413 batting average at Wrigley Field.

“I thought Murph did a great job at the top of the order,” manager Joe Maddon said of the ninth player he has used in the leadoff spot this year. “He had some really good at-bats all night long. Definitely set a great example for the rest of the group.”

That included a seven-pitch at-bat to open the game that resulted in a deep, opposite-field fly to left.

“Kind of just missed that one,” said Murphy, whose RBI single was slapped off the end of the bat through the shortstop hole against the Tigers’ moderate right-side shift.

“It was nice to get off on the right foot,” he said.

Murphy will probably stay at or near the top and start as often as Maddon can get him in the lineup down the stretch, even when shortstop Addison Russell and third baseman Kris Bryant return from injuries and crowd the infield rotation.

“He’s going to really lengthen our lineup whatever spot he’s in,” said starter Jon Lester (14-5), who gutted out another good start into the sixth.

Said Murphy: “I’m just going to come in here and try to compete like my hair’s on fire, which is what I’ve seen from afar that this ballclub has done since I’ve competed against it.”

“I love the guy,” said rookie David Bote, whose two-run homer in the fifth snapped a five-game streak with exactly one solo homer of scoring per game. “He’s a baseball rat, just like us. . . . I’m so excited he’s with us.”