Rollins' power surge continues in win vs. Bucs
Jimmy Rollins grabbed his shoes and socks and headed for the clubhouse exit. It was fireworks night at Citizens Bank Park and he didn’t want to get caught in traffic. He was in too much of a rush to stop and chat with reporters.
As Rollins walked through the door he turned around long enough to offer a quick thought on the home run that he hit to help the Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-3, on Monday night (see Instant Replay)
. It was a two-run shot off the facing of the second deck in the fourth inning and it came on a 3-0 pitch from Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens.
Was Rollins swinging on his own?
“He gave me the green light,” Rollins said of manager Charlie Manuel. “So I swung.”
Did Rollins want that green light?
“Yep,” he said, disappearing out the door.
Manuel loves to let his guys hit with 3-0 counts, especially when they are hot. Make no mistake: Rollins is hot. After hitting .239 with just 10 extra-base hits in the first two months of the season, he has come alive in the month of June. He is hitting .327 (33 for 101) with six homers and 15 RBIs this month. He has 17 extra-base hits. Rollins’ homer Monday night was his fourth in the last five days.
Rollins’ hot streak actually began in the final days of May. Since May 29, he is hitting .345 (38 for 110) with 10 doubles, two triples, seven homers, 18 RBIs and 21 runs in 25 games.
“Jimmy is the kind of guy when he gets hot, it’s fun to watch,” teammate Shane Victorino said. “He’s an electrifying player. He’s having fun. You can see it in his swing and the way he’s going about things.”
Three innings before his two-run home run, Rollins got the Phillies started on a good note when he led off the bottom of the first with a double and scored the first of four Phillies runs in that inning. The Phillies ran wild on the bases in the first inning thanks to five hits and three Pittsburgh errors.
Joe Blanton was the beneficiary of that early run support and he won his third straight decision.
“Out of the gate we were aggressive on the bases,” Blanton said. “We were forcing things and making things happen. We had a lot of energy. That makes the game fun.”
The Phillies’ energy level could pick up in the next couple of days as Chase Utley is expected to come off the disabled list and make his big-league season debut on Wednesday night (see story)
. He will play Tuesday night at Triple A Lehigh Valley in preparation.
Before Monday night’s game, the usually bland Utley had some relatively strong words for those who believe his time has passed as a player, and those who believe the 2012 Phillies are dead in NL East race.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s plenty of time,” he said about the team’s chances of making a run at a sixth straight NL East title. “I know there are some people who have given up on me, and there are some people who have given up on this team. But I’ll be the first one to tell you that I definitely haven’t given up on myself. And I know our guys haven’t given up on this year. We have strong-willed guys on this team.”
The Phils picked up a game in the NL East standings Monday night as first-place Washington lost at Colorado. The Phils are eight games back in the division.
Blanton is excited to get Utley back.
“It gives you that extra spark,” he said.
Blanton went seven innings and allowed seven hits and three runs. He walked one and struck out eight. His batterymate, Carlos Ruiz, had three hits in a game for the 10th time this season. He is hitting .354 and remains on a collision course to play in his first All-Star Game next month in Kansas City.E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com