Brett Phillips ascended to legend status during last year’s Fall Classic, conquering the Dodgers with a walk-off single in one of the most chaotic finishes in World Series history. Unfortunately, the Rays outfielder hasn’t done a whole lot since, limping to a painfully slow start in 2021. It’s been slim pickings for the charming 26-year-old, who entered Friday’s series opener against the Mets batting an abysmal .219 with 30 strikeouts in 75 plate appearances.
Making his fourth straight start in center field (the result of an injury to veteran Kevin Kiermaier), the left-handed-hitting Phillips stepped to the dish with the bases juiced and two outs in the bottom half of the ninth inning. Unfazed by his earlier failures (he had struck out in nine of his previous 10 at-bats dating back to Wednesday night), Phillips roped a base hit to right field on a first-pitch cutter from Aaron Loup, plating the game-winning run in a 3-2 Rays walk-off victory.
In a callback to his late-game heroics last fall, Phillips dusted off his signature “airplane” celebration, hyping up the crowd at Tropicana Field as teammates playfully chased him around the bases. Have you ever seen anything so pure?
Phillips’ stats don’t paint a rosy picture (.221/.308/.324 batting line with a ghastly 63.9-percent contact rate), but you have to hand it to him—the fan favorite has a flair for the dramatic.