Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Brett Phillips and Baltimore Orioles right-handed starter Jorge López have a substantive history with one another. They were teammates for a number of years within the Milwaukee Brewers organization before they were then traded together to the Kansas City Royals for Mike Moustakas. They've since gone their separate ways, but they remain friends. That context is vital to understanding a brawl-that-wasn't during Saturday's contest between the Rays and the Orioles.
In the fourth inning, López inadvertently plunked Phillips with a pitch. Phillips, sensing an opportunity to have some fun with his pal, gestured toward López and asked if he wanted to throw down, much to the horror of catcher Austin Wynns and home plate umpire Nick Marhley, each of whom thought Phillips' offer was serious. Take a look:
"He was one of my favorite teammates," Phillips told reporters, including MLB.com's Joe Trezza. "Obviously, he did not do that on purpose, and when I got hit, I was like, 'You know what, I'm gonna have a little fun with this.' So I immediately turned around. I was like, 'You want to fight with me?' And I said it with a smile on my face, but the umpire and the catcher couldn't see I was laughing, so I was like, 'No, no, no, no, no, no!' I was like, 'No, I'm just messing, this is my boy, this is my boy!'"
Phillips has a flair for creating memorable moments. He is, of course, is best known for scoring the game-winning run in Game 4 of the 2020 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Phillips and the Rays got the final laugh on Saturday, by the way, as he scored on a Brandon Lowe double that also plated Mike Zunino. Those two runs gave the Rays a 5-0 lead; they'd hold on to win by a 5-4 final.