Positive thinking powers Phillips to magic World Series moment

Rebecca BRYAN
·3-min read
Brett Phillips of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates after hitting a walkoff single in the ninth inning of the Rays' game-four victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2020 World Series
Brett Phillips of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates after hitting a walkoff single in the ninth inning of the Rays' game-four victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2020 World Series

Brett Phillips put himself in World Series lore -- and nearly in the hospital -- with his game-winning single in the Tampa Bay Rays' stunning 8-7 walkoff win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"During the celebration, (I was) just exhausting a lot of energy and I almost passed out," Phillips said Sunday before the Rays took on the Dodgers in game five of the Major League Baseball championship series that was knotted at two games apiece.

"I was dehydrated I had to get an IV -- first time getting an IV," he said of an intravenous fluid drip administered by team medical staff.

"I went in the training room, my resting heart rate was over 140 just laying there and they were like we've got to chill you down and chill out.

"But it was all worth it -- just a little hyperventilation going on, excitement," said Phillips, who said he couldn't even pass the time watching television highlight replays because he developed a migraine headache.

The Rays were down to their last out when the 26-year-old -- who wasn't even on the Rays roster for the American League Championship Series -- hit a single to centerfield that scored two runs, with the help of a couple of Dodgers errors.

The wild finish, which included Rays slugger Randy Arozarena falling as he ran from third to home, trying to go back to third and finally scoring on a Dodgers error at the plate -- was hailed as an instant World Series classic.

Phillips, who came into the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning, zoomed around the field, arms outstretched as exhilarated teammates chased him and the Dodgers looked on in disbelief.

"I had no clue what I was doing," Phillips said. "That's the first time I've ever hit a walkoff in a World Series. Taking off like an airplane looked cool because I saw (Kevin Kiermaier) do it in a video.

"So I just took off -- no direction in mind, just all pure joy and excitement."

- 'Locked in' -

It was a remarkable moment for the former Brewers prospect, who arrived in Tampa Bay in August in a trade from Kansas City.

He played just 17 games for the Rays in the regular season, and hadn't had a hit since September 25.

Rays pitcher Blake Snell said it was Phillips's relentlessly positive attitude -- which had him lending a hand to the coaches during the ALCS rather than sulking about being left off the roster -- that made it possible.

"He was locked in and ready for his moment," Snell said.

Phillips, more known before Saturday for his gasping laugh that has featured widely in social media videos, said that had always been his nature -- ever since he was a kid from the Tampa Bay area supporting the Rays.

"That's who I am," he said. "Any chance I can make a difference, always positive, I'm going to take advantage."

Phillips said that after his post-game treatment and press conference he stayed up until about four in the morning, answering hundreds of congratulatory texts.

He was touched to find so many from former teammates and fans of the Brewers and Royals.

"It just shows I made somewhat of an impact, even if it wasn't through my skill set or I didn't help them win any World Series, but it just shows I made an impact in a positive way there," he said.

By Sunday, however, Phillips and the rest of the Rays were already looking ahead as they pursued a first World Series title in club history.

"As much as I would like to enjoy that moment from last night, it's behind us now," Phillips said. "Now we have to use that energy and that passion towards these next couple of games."

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