These days, though, opposing outfielders don't play particularly deep for the Mets' No. 4 batter. Center fielder Aaron Rowand charged Murphy's single and threw out Sullivan at the plate.
So it went for the team without its regular cleanup hitter, its regular leadoff hitter and its best two hitters in a 10-1 loss to the Giants.
"It's sad," Livan Hernandez, one of the few ambulatory veterans, said.
The Mets played for the second successive game without the four primary components of their offense. At least another half-dozen games of similar shorthandedness are in the offing, and probably more than that.
Billy Wagner, in the home clubhouse for the first time, found the player personnel more unfamiliar than the surroundings.
"Wow! You don't realize how bad it is until you see all the guys who aren't here," Wagner said.
And Wagner himself is among the missing, not likely to return until Friday, maybe Thursday.
And now the Mets' roster is missing another component. Alex Cora, who grew quickly into the role of team conscience even before Jose Reyes went down, is done for the season, as he needs surgery to repair both thumbs.
"[I've] never seen anything like it. It's crazy," Hernandez said. "It's like someone threw something into the clubhouse, you know, like a bomb, and everyone's hurt."
On this hazy, hot and humid evening, Hernandez was the Mets' starter, and he struggled. Not that a better performance would have made much difference for a team that scored one run for the 15th time this season.
Hernandez was responsible for six runs in what became the Mets' 12th loss in 18 games since their five-game winning streak last month. He allowed more runs in 5 1/3 innings than the Giants had scored in all but one of their preceding nine games, and lost his third consecutive decision. Moreover, the Mets have lost 10 of his 12 most recent starts.
Hernandez (7-8) allowed 11 hits and a walk. The Giants scored one run in each of the third, fourth (a home run by Rowand) and fifth innings. One of the three runs charged to Hernandez in the sixth scored after his departure.
But his place in the rotation is not on jeopardy, as manager Jerry Manuel had suggested it might be six days earlier.
"We're going to stay where we are," Manuel said. "As of right now, we're staying in rotation."
Then again, he doesn't have many alternatives. Jon Niese? Done. Fernando Nieve? Don't count on him returning. John Maine? Ditto. Hernandez can pitch on Saturday.
But even had Hernandez avoided those three runs in the sixth and his successors held the Giants scoreless, the Mets would have been hard-pressed to compete. They scored in the third inning against winning pitcher Joe Martinez (3-1), who pitched five innings and allowed five hits and two walks. A single to left field by Gary Sheffield -- left fielder Eugenio Velez was playing appropriately deep for the Mets' No. 3 hitter -- scored Sullivan with one out.
The Mets managed eight hits overall, seven of them singles. They were outhit, 18-8, and the Giants had five extra-base hits, including a two-run pinch-hit double by Nate Schierholtz, Hernandez's final batter.
Because Hernandez had retired one of the previous four batters, Manuel allowed him to face a left-handed hitter. No one was warming up.
"I was just trying to get a ground ball. I thought [Hernandez] was our best option," Manuel said.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.