David Murphy becomes a super sub

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – David Murphy said his 2011 resurgence started with the grand slam Aug. 26 off Angels starter Dan Haren.

“There was something during that at-bat,” Murphy said. “Something clicked. I was DH'ing that game. I was watching video between at-bats. There was an at-bat that I had against Felix [Hernandez] last year toward the end of the year that I can remember myself during that at-bat and my muscle memory and I tried to go off of that and everything has been clicking since then.”

Murphy was sure clicking again Tuesday. He was 4-for-4 with a homer, two doubles and four RBIs. He is hitting .477 with four homers and 16 RBIs in his last 11 games since that memorable night against the Angels.

But more important, in the eight games since Nelson Cruz went on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, Murphy is batting .500 (16-for-32) with two homers and 10 RBIs. That’s an unbelievable substituting job.

And he believes he’s doing it because he’s not putting too much pressure on himself. He’s not trying to carry Cruz’s boomstick.

“I think looking back, I knew what I needed to do when Josh got hurt earlier in the season and that was to not try to be Josh Hamilton, but I think I did a little bit,” Murphy said. “Coming off a solid year last year and a good second half, I wanted to prove I was capable of playing every single day since I’ve been a fourth outfielder for a while. I think that was a good lesson to be learned. I'm definitely not doing that this time around.”

Murphy is establishing himself as a guy who can get it done in the second half. And that’s particularly true when big bats are out. Last September, Murphy stepped in for Hamilton, who was out with fractured ribs. Murphy had 17 RBIs and hit .355, batting much of that time in the No. 3 hole vacated by Hamilton.

“I’ve always said how important Murphy is to us,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He hasn’t had the type of year that he’s wanted to have from the beginning to now, but he kept working and the opportunity presented itself and we’re very fortunate to have a David Murphy to step up and do what he’s been doing.”

His teammates aren't particularly surprised that Murphy has snapped out of his funk and is pounding the ball.

“He could start and play for any team in the major leagues,” Hamilton said. “He needs at-bats and when he gets at-bats, he finds his stroke. He’s stepped right in and is getting the job done.”

Other notes from the game:

* Hamilton said he tweaked his back on a slide to third in the third inning, but that it felt better while he was in the dugout. He said it wasn't bothering him and he kept playing.

* C.J. Wilson, who pitched the first professional complete-game shutout of his career, said his left index finger isn't 100 percent. "It’s getting there so I think it’ll be fine," Wilson said. "I’ll throw another bullpen Thursday, and doing more of the same, so it’s going to catch up."

* Washington said the 18 shutouts, a club record, is "awesome." He admitted he wasn't sure the team would do it with a young staff. "We didn’t know what our young kids were going to give us," Washington said. "We knew they had the potential but potential don’t get things done we wasn’t sure what they were going to give us but they showed they could weather the storm. They had their ups and downs but they always come back fighting, that’s the character of those guys in that clubhouse, one day has never went into another."