NEW YORK – It happened so fast, second baseman Eric Bruntlett needed a few moments before he realized he had just ended a game with an unassisted triple play.
Bruntlett became the second player in major league history to get the final three outs on his own, accomplishing the feat Sunday to preserve the Philadelphia Phillies’ 9-7 victory over the New York Mets.
“I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t know what to do,” Bruntlett said. “The ninth inning was wild. The whole game, it seemed, was strange.”
Indeed, it was a stunning end to a crazy game that included an inside-the-park homer after the ball got stuck under the outfield wall.
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Bruntlett turned the 15th unassisted triple play in big league history – the second that ended a game. Detroit Tigers first baseman Johnny Neun also turned the trick on May 31, 1927, completing a 1-0 victory over Cleveland, according to STATS LLC.
The amazing final sequence made a winner of Pedro Martinez in his return to New York and quashed a Mets rally against closer Brad Lidge.
“We picked a good time,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
With runners on first and second in the ninth inning and a run already in, Jeff Francoeur hit a line drive up the middle that appeared headed toward center field for a single. But both runners were running on the 2-2 pitch, so Bruntlett was in perfect position as he moved over to cover second base.
He caught the liner easily, stepped on second to double up Luis Castillo and then turned to tag Daniel Murphy for the third out.
After bolting out of the box, a frustrated Francoeur stopped in his tracks and threw down his helmet with both hands.
Cleveland second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera turned the previous unassisted triple play, in the fifth inning on May 12, 2008, against Toronto.
Angel Pagan hit the inside-the-park shot and added another homer for the Mets.
Martinez, 37, batted before throwing a pitch. The Phillies scored six times in the first inning off Oliver Perez on three-run homers by Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz.
The Citi Field crowd of 39,038 stood and cheered as Martinez walked to the plate.
Martinez struck out, then gave up Pagan’s inside-the-park homer leading off the first.