Fire Eric Bruntlett can't like this. Bruntlett, who sports an ugly batting average and an equally ugly beard, entered today's game as a goat to many Phillies fans. Many wondered how he could possibly have a job on any major league team, let alone a team with championship aspirations. Well, at least for one day, Bruntlett silenced his critics with the game of his life in the Phillies 9-7 win over the Mets.
With Chase Utley needing some rest, Bruntlett got a rare start at second base against the Mets. Bruntlett then proceeded to have a great day at the plate, going 3 for 5 with 3 singles and narrowly missing a 4th hit in the 9th when Jeff Francouer made a diving catch that umpires initially ruled a hit and then overturned it. With the big game at the plate, Bruntlett's average "soared" to .154 on the season, the highest it's been since mid-June.
Bruntlett's day didn't end there, however, he had an even bigger impact on the field. In the 9th inning, with Brad Lidge going for the save, Bruntlett nearly single-handedly blew the game, botching a pair of grounders that allowed to Mets to get on base. He was only officially given an error on the first play, but a good fielder, like Chase Utley, would have made the second play as well. So, with two runners on base, no outs, and the Phillies clinging to a two run lead, Jeff Francouer stepped to the plate for the Mets and ripped a hit up the middle as both runners took off on a hit-and-run attempt. Bruntlett, clearly upset that Francouer had robbed him of a hit earlier, snagged the ball and then proceeded to end the inning by tagging second base and tagging the runner trying to steal second to win the game for the Phillies with an unassisted triple play.
Here is the video, via @jimmacmillan and Phillies Nation:
Bruntlett's unassisted triple play was the first to end a game since 1927 and the first for the Phillies since Mickey Morandini had one in 1992. While there is an extreme amount of luck that goes into a play like that, it was the perfect cap to an up-and-down game by Bruntlett that might go down as his best game ever.
Many Phillies fans want to get rid of Eric Bruntlett, and while I can't blame them at times, it's games like these that prove he belongs. No, his batting average is never going to look pretty, but he still has value for the team because he can fill in at multiple positions at any time. If he was given more consistent at-bats, you can bet his average would be at least 50 points higher, so couple that with the ability to play all over the field and you have a serviceable major league player. No, he isn't great or even above average, but Eric Bruntlett deserves his spot on the Phillies roster. At least until he screws up again.