Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is a defensive magician with an assortment of skills and tricks. His specialties include stopping on a dime, changing directions and making incredibly strong and accurate throws from his knees.
Back in May we saw a couple of those skills on display when he helped turn a rally-killing double play against Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers. On Friday night, we saw all of those skills, and the unfortunate victims once again were the Brewers.
It happened in the seventh inning with the game still tied at three. Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy hit a hard one-hopper up the middle that was ticketed for center field had pitcher Logan Ondrusek not stuck out his pitching hand — not an advised move, kids — in an attempt to knock it down. The ball would end up deflecting off Ondrusek's hand and redirecting towards Phillips usual second base position. Of course Phillips was moving towards the middle of the diamond initially, so he had to quickly change direction.
Phillips was able to do just that, and seemed to have a bead on the ball on its descent. But there was one more challenge ahead. The ball had a lot of backspin on it after changing direction, so Phillips had to make a last instant lunge to make the stop. At this point Lucroy is about 70-75 feet up the line, so to get the out Phillips can't afford to hop to his feet to make the throw. He improvises mid-stream like he did on the incredible double play back in May, gets himself in position to throw from his knees and ends up firing a strike to nab Lucroy by two steps.
Having watched it several times, Phillips actually made the entire process look a lot easier than it was. Of course it helps any time there's a catcher moving up the line, but Lucroy is pretty athletic and doesn't really fall into the base clogger category.
Bottom line, it was a nice little defensive play, but unfortunately for the Reds they didn't have a defense for Khris Davis. His pair of two-run homers helped Milwaukee pull off the 6-4 victory.