How much fun is Phillips after a 3-run homer?

by Gary Shelton on September 18, 2021

in general

Phillips brought back the airplane after homer.

Saturday, 4 a.m.

More and more, Brett Phillips is in charge of bringing the fun.

Phillips, by trade, is a reserve outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays who is hitting a robust .214 this season. But more and more, there is something electric, something enjoyable, about the 27-year-old outfielder.

Especially on nights like Friday night.

Phillips hit a walkoff three-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning Friday night, capping an improbable comeback for a 7-4 victory over Detroit. Just like that, Phillips restored order to a fan base about to start the worry clock.

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And then he was flipping the bat, and he was spreading his arms and, once again, airplaning around the bases. He was drenched in Gatorade and water, and then bounced up on top of the low wall and grasped the netting.

Baseball is fun, the guy keeps saying. And frankly, Phillips brings a truck load of it.

"That’s just one of those moments you don’t know what you’re doing," Phillips said. "You’re excited, you’re happy. All the credit goes to the guys in front of me who put together good at-bats in the ninth. That’s what it’s going to take down the stretch. That’s what it’s going take in the playoffs."

He is a local hero, Phillips, but there is more to his charm than that. This town loves to love him. He genuinely seems to love playing the game, to love being a part of this team, to love being in front of these crowds. He keeps coming up with big hits.

Take Friday night. The Rays seemed to be on their way to another disappointing loss, and then it wasn't. The team scored three times in the bottom of the ninth -- two of them on a pinch-hit single by Yandy Diaz -- to tie the game at four.

Then, in the 10th, Phillips hit his homer 409 feet for the win.

"Cashy told me to check the signs," Phillips said. "Possibly a bunt sign. I took offense to that in my head.  Obviously, if he wanted me to bunt, I'd bunt there. I appreciated the faith that I could move the runner up. I found a pitch on my barrel. That was nice.

“I think the best part was the ninth inning when our boys tied it up and allowed me to do that."

Said manager Kevin Cash" "He’s been quite the player for us. As he would say, 'baseball is fun'. It’s definitely fun when you’re making plays and getting hits like that."

The Rays fell behind quickly Friday night, as Luis Patino gave up four runs and six hits in the first three innings. And for a while, that looked like it would be plenty.

But the Rays have come from behind 44 times this season (in 92 wins). The bullpen was strong, allowing just one hit in four innings.

The Rays also got the 100th RBI of the season from Austin Meadows. It's the Rays' first season of 100 or more RBI since Evan Longoria in 2010.

The Rays will play Detroit today at 4:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Ryan Yarbrough is expected to open for the Rays against Tarik Skubal.

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