Aug 192010

Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins

August 19 Philadelphia Daily News

“TWO WEEKS ago, you wouldn’t have seen it. Not with the lingering effects of a bruised foot greeting each lateral plant with a bolt of pain.

“I’m at second,” Jimmy Rollins admitted later. “And that’s about it.”

Last night, though? With a line drive bouncing around the rightfield corner like a hyperactive 3-year-old? With Rollins thinking triple as he reached second base? With the Phillies looking for some kind of spark to win their 20th game in 25 tries?

Oh, it was there. Perceptible only under close observation, sure. But it was there. Rollins rounded second, started toward third, then summoned that extra burst of speed that has long defined him, flopping headfirst into the dirt before grinding to a stop with his abdomen atop the bag.

A few minutes later, he was trotting home, and the Phillies were following their anointed sparkplug to an 8-2 win over the San Francisco Giants.

A lot of things are flowing in a positive direction for this baseball team, the most important of them being their pitching. Last night, it was Joe Blanton recovering from a monstrous first-inning homer by Andres Torres to hold the Giants to two runs in 6 1/3 innings. For the fifth straight night, an opponent failed to score more than three runs, which is pretty much how the last month has gone for the Phillies’ rejuvenated staff.

Chase Utley went 2-for-4 with a double, a run and an RBI in his second game back from a 7-week stay on the disabled list. Domonic Brown one-upped Torres’ home run with his eighth-inning shot to the second deck in right-center, then obliged the cheering crowd by reappearing from the dugout with a wave of the hand. (For the record: First big-league pinch-hit home run, first curtain call.)

But the story of the night – and, the Phillies hope, the story of the rest of the season – was the performance from their dynamo at the top of the order. After his triple helped tie the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the third, Rollins went on to record two more hits, finishing a double shy of the cycle. The biggest hit of them all came with two outs in the fourth inning, when he launched a three-run homer into the rightfield seats off a pitch from Giants starter Matt Cain.

“I think everybody knows as Jimmy goes, we go, and tonight was just another testament to that,” Jayson Werth said.

From there, the Phillies rolled. They improved to 68-51, winning their second straight over the Giants and their fourth straight overall. Werth went 2-for-4 with an RBI double. Raul Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz both contributed triples, giving the Phillies their first three-triple game since 2008 (and the first game with triples by three different players since September 2006).

Rollins, meanwhile, continued to show signs of turning his season around. He spent 2 months on the disabled list in the spring with a strained calf. Then, just as he appeared to be finding his groove, he fouled a ball off his foot, missing three games and battling the pain for countless more.”

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