x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Bruntlett's rare feat sends Mets packing

It happened in the span of around five seconds. It happened so fast, it took an action replay for those watching the game on television to realise what went on.

Eric Bruntlett, third from left, celebrates with his fellow Phillies after completing an unassisted triple play against the Mets at Citi Field on Sunday. The rare feat capped a memorable day for Bruntlett.
Eric Bruntlett, third from left, celebrates with his fellow Phillies after completing an unassisted triple play against the Mets at Citi Field on Sunday. The rare feat capped a memorable day for Bruntlett.

It happened in the span of around five seconds. It happened so fast, it took an action replay for those watching the game on television to realise what went on. Eric Bruntlett caught the ball, landed on second base in perfect stride and spun around to tag a bewildered Daniel Murphy.

What he achieved in the process was just the second game-ending unassisted triple play in Major League Baseball. More importantly, Bruntlett's Philadelphia Phillies secured a 9-7 victory over the New York Mets in their own den - at Citi Field - on Sunday. Having already scored one run in the bottom of the ninth, the Mets had runners on first and second and were attempting a double steal. But a razor-sharp Bruntlett raced over to second base, anticipating a possible throw, when the Mets batter Jeff Francoeur hit a sharp line drive up the middle that he caught for the first out.

He then stepped on second base to double up Luis Castillo before tagging Murphy to seal the win. The Phillies came streaming out of the dugout to congratulate the second baseman. "It's hard to know how to react to it," Bruntlett said. "I was almost laughing. That doesn't happen. What do you do there? Game is over. High fives." It was also just the 14th unassisted triple play in the regular season in baseball history.

"That's great," Bruntlett's teammate Jimmy Rollins said. "Bruntly is in the books." Francoeur was shocked himself. "It was the most unbelievable play I've ever been involved in. And the sickest," he said. It completed a memorable afternoon for Bruntlett, who entered the game hitting just .128 with six RBIs. He got a rare start because the Phillies manager Charlie Manuel wanted to give Chase Utley a day off. He responded with hits in his first three at-bats.

But to put the play into perspective, Rollins said the Mets should not have tried a double steal in the first place. "I'm thinking that wasn't smart baseball," he said. Not that the Mets considered losing the game on a triple play, but Bruntlett acknowledged that having the runners in motion made the impossibility of an unassisted triple play a possibility. "It feels extra special to have that happen there to finish off the game," Bruntlett said.

* With agencies