Rollins ends postseason funk at just the right time

Still in uniform, Jimmy Rollins got to his locker in the
Phillies’ clubhouse, put his bats
away, and picked up his phone.

“I guess it was a good night – 30 messages,” Rollins said.

One connection with a 95-m.p.h. fastball, the ball landing high
on the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field, clearing the
loaded bases – Citizens Bank Park again was chanting “J-Roll!”

Coming into Game 2 of the National League Championship Series,
Rollins had one single to show for 15 postseason at-bats. In Game
1, he had some of the more-significant misses of the night, going
hitless with three strikeouts.

“I’ve been the same for the last 10 years,” Rollins said after
his four RBIs in the 6-1, Game 2 NLCS victory over San Francisco,
talking about how his self-confidence never left the building. “You
figure out things. You solve problems. Sometimes there’s going to
be confusion. But once you lose the confidence, you’re not going to
have a chance to play at this level. God gave me this talent. I’m
going to do something with it. That’s just the way it is.”

Sunday night, pitcher Roy Oswalt singled with a bat borrowed
from Rollins.

“The BAT still has hits,” Rollins told himself.

Right after Game 1,
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had
said how he was “very concerned about him hitting . . . We need to
try to get him hitting.” After Game 2, Rollins did his best spot-on
impression of his manager, saying: “That’s part of it.”

Rollins then translated: “You’re the guy that he chose, and
until you run yourself into the ground, he’s going to keep pushing
you out there. As a player you say, ‘You know what, I have a chance
today. I didn’t do anything, but tomorrow I know I’m going to be
out there, and I have a chance tomorrow.’ “

If the bases-clearing double was a big hit, an earlier Rollins
at-bat had given the
Phillies their first lead in a game
this series, after the shortstop worked a bases-loaded, two-out
walk from Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez, who found himself behind
before he even gave up a hit.

Manuel said before the game that he had considered moving
Rollins up from the sixth spot in the order to his more-customary
leadoff position – just to shake up a lethargic
Phillies offense. Then the
Phillies’ manager changed his mind
as he analyzed the numbers.

“When I looked, I liked him right where he was at, because I
look at how he’s been doing and also the fact that how we lined up
against Sanchez,” Manuel said.

“Victorino’s got some hits on Sanchez,” the
Phillies’ manager added. “I think
he’s like 5 for 16 or something. Jimmy’s 1 for 16. . . . I like
Jimmy down there where he’s at right now.”

Manuel had talked about how he’d seen Rollins in offensive funks
many times before. He’d seen Rollins come out of them, too.

Rollins said he’d heard the place chant his name before,
too.

“All you can do is smile,” he said.

Rollins also knows that the postseason is a long haul to
success. Even after a four-RBI night, he won’t judge himself
yet.

“Sometimes you just put a good swing on a ball, find some gap,
and everything looks like it’s fantastic,” Rollins said. “And for
that time, it is.”

Contact staff writer Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489 or
mjensen@phillynews.com.