Phillips brings bat, flash into Game 1 spotlight
Second baseman homers, drives in three, does little things to lift Reds
SAN FRANCISCO -- The postseason spotlight was quick to find Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips on Saturday night, and he was all the willing to bask in it by seizing upon the moment.
Phillips was at the epicenter of the Reds' 5-2 victory over the Giants in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at AT&T Park. Not only was he flashy while going 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs, but he was also workmanlike in making fundamental plays.
"Everybody is watching. It's a good time to be famous, either you're going to be famous in a good way or a bad," Phillips said. "Some people like the spotlight, some people don't. When you are playing a game that you love and you get paid for, nothing beats that. Especially when you're on TV and all your family and friends and fans [are] watching, and you want to go out there and perform for them and for yourself."
In the third inning of a scoreless game, Phillips jumped on a Matt Cain 1-2 curveball and drove it into the left-field seats.
"The hanging breaking ball to Phillips is something you don't want to happen," Cain said. "The hanging breaking ball in these situations seems to hurt a little more."
It wasn't just a lead, but also an emotional stress buster for Cincinnati. Two innings earlier, the Reds watched as ace Johnny Cueto exited two batters and eight pitches into his start with back spasms.
The homer put the Reds in control of the game early and showed them that overcoming the Cueto injury was possible.
"They know I'm the guy that can get things going, and they knew I was going to have a good game today," Phillips said. "They said something about me being on TV, I'm going to shine, I do love the TV, though."
After doing one very big thing, Phillips was more than willing to do some important little things.
In the sixth inning, after Buster Posey put the Giants on the scoreboard with a leadoff homer to make it a 3-1 game, Gregor Blanco dropped a two-out bunt near the mound. Scott Rolen rushed a wild throw that zipped past first baseman Joey Votto.
Backing up on the play near the right-field foul line, Phillips made a diving stop to grab the ball and prevent Blanco from advancing.
"Offense sells tickets and defense wins championships," Phillips said. "I'm a flashy player, but I do the fundamental things, too, like backing up, because that would have opened up the inning a lot. You never know what will happen. I'm glad I was there."
With Phillips back on the bases after his second hit of the game in the eighth, Votto grounded toward second baseman Marco Scutaro. Phillips slowed down to draw the tag and dodged as he hit the deck while Scutaro tried to apply it. Scutaro missed before throwing to first base.
"Just saw @DatDudeBP do the matrix on Scutaro!!lol," Dodgers star Matt Kemp posted on Twitter while watching the game.
"Matrix move, I think I might have a new name for him. He has about 100 now," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
During the game, Phillips said he also found time to locate Cueto in the clubhouse and talk to him.
"He wanted to go out there and pitch and show everybody that he was hungry and he has something to prove," Phillips said. "All you can really do is just go out there and battle. I believe in this team, that's the thing about it. As long as we go out there and keep our heads clear -- try to go out there and prove everybody wrong, and just go out there and have fun and get it done."