The game started with three straight epic at-bats, and ended with the 15th unassisted triple play in baseball history. In between, there was an inside-the-park home run that arguably wasn't, three Eric Bruntlett hits, Matt Stairs manufacturing a run with his speed (okay, and two Mets wild pitches), and oh yeah, Pedro Martinez returning to Queens. The Phillies and Mets have played a lot of wild games over the last three years, but nothing approaching this one.
It started off looking like a nice, relaxing blowout win by a good team over a bad team. Jimmy Rollins had an eight-pitch at-bat against Oliver Perez to lead off the first that ended in a double; Shane Victorino took another eight pitches to walk; and Jayson Werth ran Perez into a double-digit number of pitches before crushing one off the second deck facing just inside the left field foul pole. Later in the inning, Carlos Ruiz followed with another three run homer, and Perez fell behind Martinez 3-0 before Jerry Manuel came to get him, followed by a crescendo of boos.
But the Mets showed immediate resilience, as Angel Pagan led off against Martinez by driving a ball into the left-centerfield gap that seemed to get stuck under the padding. Victorino held up his arms to signal a dead ball--but the umpire didn't make the ruling, and by the time Raul Ibanez dug it out and threw it back in, Pagan was circling the bases with New York's first run. The Mets added another in the inning to make it 6-2. The Phillies briefly got the runs back in the top of the third, with Martinez contributing an RBI single, but Pagan's second homer on the day in the bottom of the frame made it 8-3 and Luis Castillo, who reached base five times on the day, later scored on a Cory Sullivan groundout to cut the deficit back to four.
Martinez settled in for his last three innings, finishing up six frames with seven hits, a walk, and five strikeouts. But Chad Durbin allowed a run in the seventh, and after Stairs scored on a walk, a wild pitch, a groundout and another wild pitch, Ryan Madson surrendered another in the bottom of the eighth to make it 9-6. That set the stage for the improbable ninth: Pagan leading off with a hard hit ball that Ryan Howard was in front of before it skipped between his legs for a three-base error. Castillo following with another hard-hit grounder right at Bruntlett, in at second base for Chase Utley, that he muffed for the second error in as many plays. Daniel Murphy hitting another back toward the middle at Bruntlett, which he bobbled again for a charitably ruled infield single. As Brad Lidge started to pace, Jeff Francoeur stood in as the potential winning run. He ripped a vicious line drive toward centerfield--that Bruntlett snared, stepping on second to double off Castillo and then tagging out Murphy, who had been running on contact, to end the game.
I saw it, and I'm still not sure I believe it.