Sunday, August 23, 2009


This afternoon's Phillies-Mets game was supposed to be about Pedro Martinez's return to Flushing. But as we know, baseball throws us many curveballs (no pun intended). Eric Bruntlett, who was starting instead of Chase Utley, turned out to be the star of the Philles 9-7 victory over the Metropolitans.

The Mets choose to start Oliver Perez. Perez did not even finish the first inning after giving up 6 runs and going 3-0 to one Pedro Martinez. Jayson Werth hit a 3-run homer off Perez before an out was recorded.

Later in the inning (and this was a long inning), catcher Carlos Ruiz took Perez deep with two runners on. So, two 3-run dingers in the first frame. Then Perez, faltering with his command, threw 3 straight balls to Pedro Martinez. After that, Mets manager Jerry Manuel had seen enough and yanked Perez.

So, it was Pedro time. Angel Pagan lead off for the Mets with a long drive to left-center that was stuck between the padding and the warning track. Shane Victorino put his hands up, which is what you are supposed to do when a ball gets stuck in the outfield wall. Meanwhile, Pagan was racing around the bases.

Finally, Raul Ibanez picked up the ball (which wasn't too stuck) and threw it in. By that time, Pagan had already reached home plate with an inside-the-park homer. Pagan later hit an "outside" homer in his next at-bat.

Pedro got knocked around early in the game. I won't blame him for the inside-the-park homer (that was Victorino's fault), but I will blame him for the other 3 runs he gave up. He settled down, giving up no runs in the 4th, 5th, and 6th.

Now to Eric Bruntlett, who entered the game hitting .128. The light-hitting Bruntlett did get three hits in the ballgame. He did have a fourth hit (a triple) that was taken away after the umpires ruled that Jeff Francoeur, in fact, did catch the ball. The original ruling was a hit.

Those hits (however surprising) weren't Bruntlett's mark on the game. In the ninth inning, Bruntlett botched two ground balls (only one was ruled an error). But if it wasn't for those two plays, Bruntlett wouldn't have the chance to orchestrate one of the most exciting plays in baseball.

With the runners going on a 3-2 count, Daniel Murphy lined one right to Bruntlett (who was there covering second because both runners [on 1rst and 2nd] were stealing). Bruntlett caught the ball (1 out) touched 2nd base (out 2) and tagged the runner going to second (out 3). And just in a matter of seconds, Eric Bruntlett had ended the game.

Bruntlett's unassisted triple play was only the second in MLB history to end a game. The first since 1927 to do so. It was a great moment for a player who gets little playing time usually.

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