August 18 Philadelphia Inquirer
After 49 days, 43 games, and one thumb surgery, the Phillies’ second baseman returned to the lineup well ahead of schedule, and that’s the kind of thing that makes him a beloved figure in Philadelphia.
An equally loud ovation followed in the bottom of the fifth inning at Citizens Bank Park when the man who hit immediately in front of Utley delivered arguably the game’s biggest hit in the biggest game the Phillies have played so far this season.
Jimmy Rollins, of all people, argued that his two-out single was not the biggest hit during the Phillies‘ 9-3 win over San Francisco that allowed them to move a game in front of the Giants in the National League wild-card standings.
He voted for Shane Victorino’s two-run double an inning later that broke a 2-2 tie.
“That guy over there got the biggest hit,” Rollins said, pointing to his teammate as he left the clubhouse after the Phillies‘ 19th win in 24 games. “If my hit was the only hit, we’d still be playing.”
Perhaps, but it was Rollins who got the offense rolling on a night when they finished with 13 hits.
With the Phillies struggling early against the Giants’ Barry Zito, an opportunity to erase a 2-0 deficit was presented to Rollins, the Phillies’ shortstop who has endured two trips to the disabled list and an inability to find his hitting groove this season.
Roy Oswalt had helped himself by laying down a two-strike sacrifice that moved Mike Sweeney and Carlos Ruiz into scoring position, but to score, the Phillies needed a two-out hit from Rollins.
After taking a slow curveball for a strike, Rollins planted a fastball from Zito into center for a two-run single. The game was tied, and an inning later, Victorino chased Zito with his double.
“I took a lot of swings in the cage in between at-bats today,” Rollins said. “Right before that at-bat, I hit some balls well off the machine, so I felt like I went in with a good idea, I guess. I’ve seen a lot of Barry in the past and he always throws me a lot of curveballs, but that time, he decided to throw me a fastball and it just worked out.”
Rollins has always done his best work during his decade with the Phillies when the at-bats have mattered most. Consider this: The Phillies’ shortstop is a career .289 hitter when runners are in scoring position. That’s 20 points higher than his average when runners are not in scoring position and 16 points higher than his career average.”
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