For Brandon Phillips, firing up your team should probably not involve getting teams into fights.
Phillips, easily one of the best players and leaders for the Cincinnati Reds, may be the reason why the St. Louis Cardinals swept their recent series, ending today with the Cards winning 6-1.
Yesterday's scrum proved to be a major boost for both teams. For Cincy, it showed that they have a fire, which will keep them in the NL Central race with perennial contenders from the Gateway to the West. For the Redbirds, it showed that firing up a proven team can backfire, especially when given the chance to send a message on the road.
What Phillips said was not wrong, albeit strongly opinionated. The problem lies within the person he started it with, catcher Yadier Molina.
Molina is arguably the best defensive catcher of the last decade, and has been a force while taking his place behind home plate. On top of that, Molina is the receiver for one of the best trios of starting pitchers in the 2010 season. That trio includes Adam Wainwright, Chis Carpenter, and the budding Jaime Garcia.
Molina is a leader in his respective clubhouse, just like Phillips, but Phillips can only do so much after getting the fire started. Molina is a part of every pitch in any game that he is catching. If he wants to make sure you never hit a pitch, he can do that with the talent he has throwing to him. If he wants you hit, he has the power that will make sure you get hit.
Molina can occasionally hit the ball, too. His fired up solo shot in yesterday's victory is proof that Phillips got someone fired up.
The race in the NL Central will be one of the best in baseball as the season reaches its stretch run. The brawl on Tuesday and the sweep of the Reds by the Cards will also have an effect on the next few days and series. The players for both clubs will not forget what happened during the past three games, and it appears the Cardinals have responded in a more positive fashion than the Reds have.
Do not be surprised if Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto misses a start in the next coming days, as Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue has been put on the disabled list with concussion-like symptoms and bruised ribs, courtesy of Cueto's best attempt to kick like a swimmer in the air.
Both teams have Thursday off before big series. The Cardinals return home for a visit with the rival Chicago Cubs, and Cincy welcomes Josh Johnson and the Florida Marlins to the Queen City.
Hopefully for the Reds, Brandon Phillips likes the Flying Fish more than the Redbirds, who flew out of Cincinnati with the sweep, and sole possession of first place in the NL Central.
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