The Twilight Zone: Unassisted Triple Play
If you missed this game, I pity you. Complete insanity. But let us begin at the beginning:
Going back to New York for the first time since leaving the Mets, Pedro Martinez had an eventful day on the mound.
However, his start on the mound was actually preceded by his first turn at the plate. The Phillies absolutely destroyed Mets starter Oliver Perez taking him deep twice in the 1st; both Jayson Werth’s and Carlos Ruiz’s homers scored 3 runs each. Down 6-0 with 2 outs, Perez had to face his old teammate and Martinez stood at the plate while Perez tossed three straight balls to him. With that 3-0 count, the Mets manager sprung from the dugout and took Perez out of the game mid-batter. To sum up the inning for Perez: total humiliation.
But the bottom of the 1st inning was no less eventful. The first batter of the game for the Mets hit what looked like a ground rule double to centerfield. As the ball jammed itself under the outfield padding, Shane Victorino threw his arms up in the air to tell the umpires that the ball was unplayable. Raul Ibanez saw that the umpires did not react and quickly snagged the ball and threw home, but the throw arrived too late and Angel Pagan wound up with an inside-the-park home run. Apparently, Victorino was unaware of the ground rules in the new Citi Field and balls stuck under the padding are still considered playable.
Both sides must have felt like they were entering the Twilight Zone after the weird start to the game. Martinez looked uncomfortable on the mound and was missing his spots badly. He allowed 4 runs in the first 3 innings but just when it looked like it was going to be a very bad day for him, Martinez settled in and pitched lights out for the next 3 innings. He was so good the last two innings, it looked like he might go out for the 7th, but Charlie Manuel decided to go to the bullpen. The Phillies are probably trying to continue to ease Martinez into longer outings little by little and did not want to risk an injury.
The Phillies scored a few more runs in the game and even Martinez helped himself to a hit and an RBI in the game. Victorino took a career high 3 walks in the game and Eric Bruntlett had 3 hits in a rare start at second base. But the insanity continued into the 9th inning and most of it had to do with Bruntlett.
Bruntlett hit a line drive to right field in the 9th and it was just barely caught by the outfielder; the umpire ruled he trapped the ball and it looked like Eric had a triple. But the Mets argued and the officials overturned the call; a call that, by the way, was NOT reviewable. Replays showed he did make the catch but he did not show the transfer from glove to hand to the umpire.
Then in the bottom of the ninth Brad Lidge took the mound and all hell broke loose. Ryan Howard missed a ball that rolled past him and gave the Mets a triple when it should have been the first out. The next batter hit the ball to Bruntlett who bobbled it for error #2; the run scored and still no outs. Daniel Murphy hit a single to make it 1st and 2nd, still no outs. And then the unbelievable happened; Jeff Francour, the same Met who caught the Bruntlett liner in the top of the 9th, hit a line drive to guess who? Eric Bruntlett. The runners were off on the pitch so Bruntlett caught the ball for one out, stepped on second for the next out and then tagged Murphy to complete the unassisted triple play! The unassisted triple play to END the game no less. OMG!
The announcers said that this was the first time ever that an unassisted triple play ended a game; but it is actually the 2nd time. Johnny Neun did it on 5/31/27 for the Tigers. But in all of baseball history, it was only the 15th time the unassisted triple play has ever happened. Two of those have now been completed by Phillies; Mickey Morandini did it on 9/20/92 for the Phils. You just saw history people; more rare than the no-hitter or even the perfect game; the unassisted triple play – AMAZING.
Photos by Jenn