I suppose by now you’ve all heard the news.
Of the 30 members of the 3,000-hit club, Ichiro Suzuki and Paul Molitor are the only ones to hit a triple for their 3,000th hit.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 7, 2016
No, no; not the thing everyone is talking about. The other huge triple of the day; the one that finally took Eric Bruntlett down a peg.
Franco smelled that 5-4-3 triple play off the bat. Quick to the ball— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) August 7, 2016
Someone get Eric Bruntlett on the phone!— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) August 7, 2016
"Uh," Bruntlett, in the middle of telling the story of his unassisted triple play to some unimpressed bar regulars near his lake house, said. The rush of adrenaline he always felt when relating the tale to people, even if they’d heard it many times before, never failed to keep him energized for a full day, but his face fell as he watched the ball slap into Tommy Joseph’s glove at first. "Never mind."
Yes, as we all know, the last time they pulled one of these off, it was Bruntlett holding the ball, his unassisted triple play sending Jeff Francoeur into a downward spiral from which his career would never recover. Did Bruntlett’s chance for a TP only exist because he had committed multiple fielding errors that inning? Yes it did.
Moving along, there was plenty of baseball game prior to the raucous fielding display. The two teams nipped at each other early, as they have the whole series, and it was 1-1 after Odubel Herrera homered in his first at-bat off San Diego starter Jarred Cosart. It wasn’t until the top of the fourth that the Phillies strung together an offense that wasn’t built on infield singles, defensive errors, or hit batsmen—we’re talking about hard hit balls, line drives, and extra bases; pure, American offense.
Ryan Howard led off with a single, Aaron Altherr followed with another, and then Cody Asche tried kill the momentum with a double play. The Padres were quite pleased with themselves, having escaped a scoring threat and recorded the game’s most outs on a single play. By the end of the afternoon, neither would be true.
With two outs and all the speed of an upside down car on third base, this did not seem prime time for a rally. But the Phillies anointed it rally time anyway, with Carlos Ruiz—in the throes of a three-hit day—singling and Cameron Rupp and Jerad Eickhoff cracking a double each. Eickhoff has proven he can’t bunt, grounding into two double plays just today, but seems adept at doubles, this afternoon’s being his third of the year. The score now 4-1, the Padres dispatched their pitching coach to the mound, where whatever he said did nothing to inspire Jarred Cosart. Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera each singled, increasing the score to 5-1.
The Padres got one back on an Alex Dickerson home run, but Eickhoff crashed through the fifth and didn’t get into real trouble until the sixth. With two runners in scoring position with one out, Dickerson hit a sac fly to make it 5-3. Bob McClure jogged out for a mustachioed consultation, but this was not a day for the pitching coaches, as Eickhoff allowed a Ryan Schimpf two-run blast to tie the game at 5-5 moments later.
In the seventh, Cesar Hernandez turned a ground-out into a double by reaching second on a throwing error. Once again, there were two outs before anyone decided to do anything, but Tommy Joseph pinch hit for Howard and laced an RBI single to give the Phillies back a one-run lead that at this point felt impossible to protect.
The Padres vindicated this concern by putting runners on first and second off reliever Edubray Ramos, but thankfully, this was precisely the moment Phillies chose to ruin Eric Bruntlett’s weekend at the lake house. The Phillies haven’t had a TP turned against them in over ten years. "I thought I would hit into one before I would be on the successful end of one," Joseph told broadcasters after the game.
Jeanmar Gomez took over in the ninth and logged his 29th save of the season in somewhat of a hurry. The Phillies have now not lost their last three series’, and have climbed to just ten games over .500. Not even Tommy Joseph getting dabbed on the wrist with a pitch could ruin the day. What else do these Phillies have to do to impress you? Not strike out looking with RISP? Not allow other teams to almost match them in runs, while logging far fewer hits (In a 6-5 loss, the Padres had five hits, while their defeaters needed 14)? Have more patient at-bats? Yes.
Moving along, the next stop on this somehow victorious road trip out west is Chase Utley’s new home. Grab the kleenex and meet me at the TV.