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And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

Aug 24, 2009, 5:10 AM EDT

Phillies 9, Mets 7: Unassisted triple plays are cool and all, but they’re really more about luck than anything else, aren’t they? You hit the ball to just the wrong place at just the wrong time and bam-bam-bam it’s over. Oftentimes the middle infielder who turns the thing isn’t even 100% sure he’s done it until he looks around a bit, tags a guy he forced out just to be sure, etc., because it’s really more a matter of reflex than anything else. It’s sort of like most inside the park home runs (like the one Angel Pagan hit earlier in this game): happenstance or maybe a bad play on the part of the opposition makes it possible. So, even though I’d love to rag on Jeff Francoeur for hitting into one of these things or praise Eric Bruntlett for turning it, blame and credit has to go to chance more than anyone.

Cardinals 5, Padres 2: Before people start talking about how wrong the Sox were to release Smoltz, or how much worse the NL is than the AL, or how the release motivates Smoltz or any of that, let us just remember that yesterday’s strong performance (5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 9K) came against the worst offense in baseball, playing in the friendliest pitchers’ park in baseball.

Cubs 3, Dodgers 1: The Cubs salvage one, as Jake Fox goes 4 for 4 with a homer and two RBI. Game story: “[Ryan Dempster] credited his breakfast of ‘pancakes and a little bowl of whip-your-butt cereal’ for his solid outing.” I can only assume he got the cereal from this chick.UPDATE:  Sadly, the nice lady in Los Angeles who advertised her butt-whipping services has taken her ad down. Still, it’s L.A., so if you’re interested in getting “the Ryan Demptser treatment,” I’m sure there are still many places you can find such a service.

Yankees 8, Red Sox 4: Three game series between the Sox and Yanks: 58 runs scored, game times of 3:57, 3:17, 3:13, and not one single extra inning. Watching the Yankees play the Red Sox is like watching WAC football from the 1980s. If the AL East is the best baseball has to offer, baseball can friggin’ keep it.

Athletics 9, Tigers 4: Jack Cust hit two homers, Landon Powell hit one, and Brett Tomko of all people continues to pitch like an ace. The win brings him to 98-101 for his career. For purely subjective reasons — including the fact that Tomko is my age and the fact that I have a soft spot for journeyman swingmen, I’d like to see him even up that record before the end of the season.

Orioles 5, White Sox 4: Mark Buehrle has had one decent start since his perfect game (which the Sox lost, but that’s neither here nor there). Beat up again yesterday for five runs on eleven hits in five and a third, one wonders what the heck has happened to the guy. He’s not walking a ton of guys. He’s just getting pounded. As for the Sox, they just played six against the Royals and Orioles at home, and they split those. You’d think that a playoff team wins four or five against those teams. If they finish one or two behind the Tigers, that little stretch may look pretty big in hindsight.

Rangers 4, Rays 0: Scott Feldman was on (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 11K). Chip Caray and Buck Martinez weren’t, however, so instead of this game, I watched . . .

Indians 6, Mariners 1: The Tribe beat up on Felix Hernandez, chasing him in the four-run sixth inning and Fausto Carmona (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 8K) looked better than than I’ve seen him since 2007. Jhonny Peralta iht an RBI single, ohmered, and reahced on error and came ohme to score.

Rockies 4, Giants 2: Jiminez beats Lincecum, and the Rockies have extended their wild card lead over the Giants by taking two of three thus far in the series. This is a wraparound, though, so the Giants have a shot to get back where they were on Friday morning with a win tonight.

Twins 10, Royals 3: Mike Cuddyer homered twice. Kyle Farnsworth, the man whose presence in the pen required that Alex Gordon be sent down to Omaha — gave up five runs on five hits in one inning of work.

Reds 4, Pirates 1: With this won the Reds are now .005 points
ahead of the Pirates in the Central! This one is going down to the
wire, folks! Pirates starter Kevin Hart: “I don’t think you’re going to
win a lot of games at this level throwing the ball like I did today.”
He’s right. And just imagine how bad a day it would have been for him
at the Major League level.

Nationals 8, Brewers 3: I mock the Reds and Pirates, but the
Brewers are closer to them in the standings than they are to the
Cardinals. As for the Nats, a win tomorrow in the finale of this series
and they’ll be at .500 since the break. Not bad for a team that has
rarely looked as bad this season as their record indicates.

Blue Jays 8, Angels 3: I think the Jays, at least when
Halladay doesn’t start, are like the AL’s version of the Astros for me
in that I can rarely find anything on interest in their box scores.
Something fun from the AP story, though, was the fact that Vladimir
Guerrero fouled off a pitch that bounced in the dirt in the ninth. He’s
Vlad, though, and that’s just what he does.

Braves 7, Marlins 5: Brian McCann provided the bookends to the
scoring in this one with a three run homer in the first and a two-run
single in the eighth which proved to be the game winner.

Diamondbacks 7, Astros 5: Arizona halts a seven game losing
streak. The Dbacks drew five walks, which was a big deal, because
before those, not a single player on the team had walked since last

  1. Jeff - Aug 24, 2009 at 9:37 AM

    Nobody is saying Bruntlett is a defensive genius. But he did something amazing, or it happened to him, or whatever, so let him have his moment in the sun! As for Francoeur, he did manage to hit it in just about the worst place possible…

  2. datcrazybok - Aug 24, 2009 at 10:03 AM

    I agree 100 percent Jeff. Nobody is saying that Bruntlett made some incredible play to accomplish the unassisted triple play. But with all that is wrong with baseball today, can we not just celebrate these little small moments that make us smile?

  3. Steven - Aug 24, 2009 at 10:06 AM

    Do you not realize that A LOT of baseball is about luck? Just because a NOT-SO-POPULAR player made history, he doesn’t get as much credit? Imagine if Jeter turned it, it would be the biggest story in sports for weeks. The word “luck” probably wouldn’t even be mentioned. Many plays in sports are luck, but thats part of the game! Give credit where credit is due. He made history!

  4. Craig Calcaterra - Aug 24, 2009 at 10:11 AM

    Wait, so your argument is “a lot of baseball is about luck, so this guy should be given credit even though it was luck?” Not following.
    And just to be clear, I agree that if Jeter had done it people would be going crazy. I’m not one of those people, and I’d be screaming for everyone to shut up about it.
    Nowhere here did I disparage Bruntlett. It was a nice play. Most of my “luck” comment had to do with Francoeuer, really, as he is a guy I normally never hesitate to slam. I wanted to make clear here that the triple play really wasn’t his fault. He hit the ball hard. Shit just happened.

  5. Tom - Aug 24, 2009 at 10:12 AM

    Bravo on the multiple instances of the misplaced “h” in the Indians/Mariners recap. Jhonny Peralta’s name has always bugged me. That said, he’s on my fantasy team of course.

  6. Will - Aug 24, 2009 at 10:27 AM

    The point is that there are a lot of great plays that involve much more skill and truly are a lot less about luck. For example, a 5-4-3 triple play is much more impressive and certainly takes more skill to get the ball around the diamond in time.

  7. Mike - Aug 24, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    An unassisted triple play is rare. That’s why it is making news. How rare, you ask? There have been only 15 occurrences in the Modern era (since 1909). For comparison, there have been less unassisted triple plays than there have perfect games (16) in the past 105 years.
    This was just a great play. Whether it’s based on luck or not is moot. Also, consider the scenario in which it happened. Runners were on first and second with no outs. The Mets were down by only a run. The play called for a hit & run, so they were moving. Had this ball gotten past Bruntlett, the game would have been over via a walkoff hit. An unassisted triple play is great, but one to SAVE the game? Spectacular! By the way, only one other time has an unassisted triple play occurred to end a game.

  8. John - Aug 24, 2009 at 11:10 AM

    What a stupid comment. Of course it’s luck. But seriously, the fact that it happened is way cool. Don’t discount what happened just because it involved a lot of luck.
    You forgot that Bruntlett was playing close to 2nd base because of runners on 1st and 2nd, which put him in position to make the play. He plays his normal position, that ball’s in center field. No luck there, my friend.
    The fact that he caught the ball (not a hard catch, but no luck involved either), had the presence of mind to step on 2nd (no luck there, simply a good baseball play) and then having the presence of mind to tag the runner (so it happened fast, his skill as a player enabled him to do it). Your comments on luck being all of it take away a pretty remarkable feat – the only feat of the day that got me to tune in to Sportscenter.
    Appreciate it, don’t diminish it.

  9. Mike Z - Aug 24, 2009 at 12:11 PM

    This game was one of the oddest games of baseball I have ever seen. It was more on the side of strange then luck for both teams. The game started with a 6 run first for the Phils off 2 3 run home runs (Werth & Ruiz). Perez lasts 2/3’s of an inning giving up 6 earned runs on 4 hits and 2 walks and gets pulled after throwing 3 straight balls to Martinez. Also note this was this was the first game Martinez has pitched against his ex-team.
    Bottom of the first Pagan leads off and hits a ball to center that drops in and rolls under the padding, Victorino throws his hands up but the ump did not acknowledge it. Pagan scores off an inside the park home run. On his next at bat in the 3rd he hit a legit home run. Which gives him 2 on the day and 5 total for the season.
    The game gets normal for a while until the 9th. Bruntlett came up to bat and hit a pop up to left which looked like Sullivan caught but the ump said he did not and gave Bruntlett a triple. That is until the umps had a 5 minute meeting and overturned the call saying Bruntlett was out. Now this was the correct call but not sure how the umps came to that conclusion without the aide of replay. Charlie Manual gets ejected.
    Now the bottom of the 9th starts with an error to Howard. Next play Bruntlett boots a ball, everyone safe. Next play Bruntlett boots another one, run scores and runners are safe at first and second. The game would have been over at this point if it were not for the 3 straight errors. So now the Mets have the winning run at the plate with no outs. The Mets decide to play hit and run at this point (no clue why). This is when Francoeur hits into the only game ending triple play in National League history. Turning Bruntlett from zero to hero after booting the previous 2 plays.
    This story would have made more noise if Utley was in the game and made the amazing triple play. But if he was in the game odds are he would not have made those errors and the chance would not have arose. But that was not the case and this play capped off one crazy game of baseball.

  10. Delaware - Aug 24, 2009 at 12:34 PM

    Luck? good or bad, I think bad luck ball was hit in that spot. Skill? yes player caught the board and used skill to do what should have been done! Probably should thank his little league coach.

  11. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Aug 24, 2009 at 1:28 PM

    You are giving him far too much credit.
    With runners on and no outs, either the second basemen or SS is going to be moving when the runners go. Yes he was closer to 2nd due to the DP possibility, but none of the above so far is a sign of “skill”.
    As for catching it and going to 2nd for the out, this happens all the time. And tagging the runner, while it sets up the “unassisted” part of the triple play, wasn’t needed because he could have just as easily thrown to first for the third out.
    Craig is saying that while it’s a cool play, it’s most likely due to luck (like an inside-the-park HR that takes a weird bounce past the fielder) than skill.

  12. james stickel - Aug 24, 2009 at 2:28 PM

    Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. These major leaguers have been preparing everyday since little league. Yesterday, this guy’s prep met his opportunity.

  13. Will - Aug 24, 2009 at 5:28 PM

    “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity”
    —Talk about a platitude that does not fit the situation.

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