Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
ON THE MOUND — Ready to shake off the long-held idea that outfielders are the worst players on the field, Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Brett Phillips got his opportunity to shine.
No, he didn't rob a home run at the fence — see, outfielders are valuable in baseball — but he did get to play in the hallowed infield. And it wasn't just any position; it was as the team's closer — the pitcher, the guy that throws the ball really fast and makes a lot of money.
It's kind of an important position in the sport.
With the team already down 9-1 to the Oakland Athletics, team manager Kevin Cash decided to insert Phillips in the eighth inning to save his pitching during a lost cause of a game. It's not an uncommon tactic, but it almost always leads to some entertaining moments — like the time when Anthony Rizzo struck out Freddie Freeman last year.
And let's just say Phillips made the most of his opportunity.
On Phillips' third pitch as the team's closer, Athletics outfielder Cristian Pache hit a deep fly ball to left field that was caught just short of the wall. It was a routine fly out and Phillips decided to taunt Pache by telling him he needed to hit the weight room.
Position-player-turned-pitcher Brett Phillips amazingly told Cristian Pache to hit the weight room after flying out to the wall 🤣 pic.twitter.com/e5jtbgv483— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 12, 2022
But Phillips wasn't done there.
In the ninth inning, Phillips brought his outfielder talent to the infield. With a pop fly hanging left in foul territory near the dugout, Phillips rushed to the ball. Traditionally, pitchers aren't the ones to go after pop-ups in the infield; but remember, Phillips is an outfielder, so he took off in a dead sprint.
As he approached the spot where he hoped to meet the ball, Phillips decided to add some pizzazz to the catch and slid about 10 feet before catching it on his back. He quickly jumped up and used a "rock on" hand gesture — yes, I know it was for two outs but "rock on" sounds cooler.
Brett Phillips did what?!?! 😂 pic.twitter.com/GdXN28kJ0d— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 12, 2022
It was all good and fun until the Rays got the best of Phillips and his 45 mph pitches. With bases loaded, second baseman Sheldon Neuse launched one into the stands for a grand slam. Maybe Phillips should stick to the outfield after all. At the very least, he has a future with the Savannah Bananas.
NEUSE GRAND SLAM OFF BRETT PHILLIPS 💥 pic.twitter.com/zYQBBfL3Bf— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 12, 2022
And if Phillips' antics on the mound weren't good enough, the game featured arguably the best hit by pitch I've ever seen.
In the first inning of the game, Athletics catcher Sean Murphy, who was up to bat, had a ball come behind him at the plate. The problem was the ball's target was his butt — quite honestly the best spot to be hit by a ball — but Murphy seemed to "push" it away. I'll let you be the judge, but hilarious nonetheless.
Sometimes baseball is art — hang it in the Louvre.