Phillips’ walk-off single leads Rays’ comeback

by Gary Shelton on May 15, 2021

in general

Zunino's long homer sparked the Rays' rally./TIM WIRT

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Pity the poor New York Mets. Friday night, Brett Phillips had them right where he wanted them.

Phillips had spent the entire game looking unimpressive. He had struck out three times, watching his batting average dip to .209. He had missed on a sacrifice bunt attempt. He was hitting .056 with runners in scoring position.

Naturally, then, Phillips spanked the first fastball he saw into right field in the bottom of the ninth inning, driving in Brandon Lowe with the winning run in a 3-2 comeback win over the New York Mets.

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Phillips, best known for a game-winning single in game four of the World Series last season, did it again Friday night. Phillips stroked the first pitch he saw from ex-teammate Aaron Loup into right-field, and suddenly, it was airplane time again. Just like his World Series celebration, Phillips extended his arms as he passed first base. Teammate Kevin KIermaier caught him and draped himself around Phillips' shoulder.

"That’s just the game of baseball right there," Phillips said. "I struck out three times. I missed a sac-bunt. The first at-bat the bases were loaded. That’s baseball, having a positive mindset throughout the game, knowing another opportunity is going to present itself.

“After every strikeout. I'd tell myself 'you’re good. Just keep going. You’ll have another opportunity. Just keep pushing for it. Fortunately, I was able to come through there."

The Rays were chasing much of the game. Starter Tyler Glasnow had a perfect game going into the fifth, but he gave up a two-run homer to Jonathan Villar. The Rays, meanwhile, were scuffling at the plate again, managing just two hits through seven innings.

In the eighth, however, Mike Zunino hit his eighth home run. After Kevin Padlo had his first major league hit -- a double -- Manny Margot's double tied the game.

In the ninth, Lowe walked, Zunino walked and Willy Adames singled to right. Pinch-hitter Joey Wendle struck out, bringing up Phillips.

“I’m going to be honest," Phillips said. "I was sitting on deck thinking the game was over with Joey up to bat. Obviously, I’ve got all the faith in the world in him. Loup being an ex-teammate, I know he’s one of the best lefties in the game. I’d put him up there regardless of what his numbers are. His stuff is nasty. I wasn’t trying to be in the batters' box too long against him."

The Rays were able to stay close behind Glasnow, who gave up five hits in eight innings. He struck out 10.

"I view it like we won," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "We’ve won two in a row now. Winning against this team is not easy. We’ll take them how we can get them. Sometimes, you’ve got to win low-scoring games. Sometimes, you’ve to win high-scoring games."

The Rays try for their third straight win today in a 1:10 p.m. game against the Mets at Tropicana Field. The Rays will start Shane McClanahan. The Mets have not announced their starter.

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