Eric Bruntlett’s Unassisted Triple Play Was 7 Years Ago Today
Eric Bruntlett only played two seasons with the Phillies. They were his last two seasons in Major League Baseball. And with good reason: The backup utility infielder and outfielder hit just .202 in his two seasons with the Phillies.
But he had quite a few incredible moments as a member of the Phils. He hit a home run in the 2008 World Series, and scored the winning run in Games 3 and 5. He also, amazingly, is just one of 15 players to turn an unassisted triple play. He’s just one of two whose unassisted triple play ended a game.
It happened seven years ago today, a feat even more impressive than an earthquake. (After all, there have been more than two earthquakes in Philadelphia, but only Bruntlett and Mickey Morandini turned unassisted triple plays for the Phillies.)
— Phillies (@Phillies) August 23, 2016
Here’s what happened: The Phillies, on their way to a second straight pennant, were 70-50. They were playing the third in a four-game series against the Mets in New York. Pedro Martinez, recently acquired by the Phils, was starting against his former team. Chase Utley had the day off, and Bruntlett started at second base — one of only five times he’d do that in 2009.
The Phillies scored six runs in the top of the first on a pair of three-run blasts by Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz. It looked like the Phillies would win in a blowout. But the Mets kept chipping away at the Phils’ lead, and were down three going into the ninth. Howard opened it with a three-base error, and Bruntlett committed another error on the very next batter. Another ball hit to Bruntlett, ruled a single, made it first and second with no outs. The score was just 9-7. Brad Lidge had a shaky 2009. The Phillies could have lost this one.
Future Phillie Jeff Francoeur was at the plate. The Mets called for a double steal with the count 2-2. Francoeur swung, and lined the pitch right to Bruntlett. He tug second base for the second out, then tug Daniel Murphy for the third. It was the first game-ending unassisted triple play since 1927. Bruntlett was only moving toward the liner because of the double steal. Had the Mets not tried for the double steal, Francoeur’s liner likely goes for a hit. “I’m thinking, ‘That wasn’t smart baseball,’” Jimmy Rollins said.
Things were gloomier over in the other clubhouse. “That’s just some bullshit, all I can say,” Francoeur told Newsday (the newspaper actually censored the quote, but I’ve guessed at what it contained). “I thought of a couple words, but I can’t say ’em,” Murphy said.
Meanwhile, Bruntlett was excited to atone for his earlier error. “It really is true that when you think you’ve seen it all, you see something like that,” he said. “That was certainly the case today… It was huge, especially because I was part of the reason we got into such a bad spot there in the ninth. So it feels extra special that it happened there to finish off the game.”
Per a 2011 Lafayette Journal & Courier article (since deleted from the Internet), Bruntlett retired after spending the 2010 season in the minor leagues to be a stay-at-home dad. Well, a stay-at-home dad with a World Series ring and one amazing story to tell about a game seven years ago today.
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