Maybe he channeled his inner United Stats Soccer Team. Jimmy Rollins flair for the dramatic happened much the same. Early struggles turned into an incredible ending.
Rollins walk-off homer made everyone forget about the first eight innings of up and down, back and forth baseball played by both sides. It wasn’t pretty for the 3 hours and 16 minutes these two teams fought, but the end result, a 7-6 win, was gorgeous. Afterward, Shane Victorino gave Rollins a shaving cream pie to the face. Haven’t seen that in a while. “It was good to have a shaving pie moment,” said Rollins. “That’s two in a row, and that’s really what’s most important, that we found a way to win.”
Early on, it was an ugly affair. Both Jake Westbrook and Kyle Kendrick were sloppy on the mound, and both couldn’t last past the fifth inning. Westbrook was bounced after five frames, giving up four runs on seven hits.
All year long, it’s been Good Kyle Kendrick or Bad Kyle Kendrick. Unfortunately for the Phillies, Bad Kyle showed up. Behind Bad Kyle was a good bullpen, until the very end, when it counts most. Yet there was Jimmy to save the day.
Last week against the Yankees, we saw Good Kyle. Tonight, Bad Kyle nearly allowed an inferior opponent to take away what little momentum they had gained.
Bad Kyle gave up five runs (four earned) in four-plus innings of work and never really could settle into a groove. He missed all over the zone, many times up in hittable locations, and the Indians pounced. The first batter of the game, Trevor Crowe, doubled, and from there it was mostly downhill. Shin-soo Choo followed him up with a two-run upper deck blast to right field and if you blinked you missed the opening festivities.
The Phillies scoring would begin in the first as well, as Placido Polanco scored on a Ryan Howard 3-6 double play. It ended the inning, but Polanco touched home before Chase Utley was tagged out on the force out portion of the DP.
Jayson Werth then bashed a ball into the back of the Phillies bullpen to lead off the second inning against starter Jake Westbrook, tying the game at two. The see saw battle would begin.
Cleveland jumped ahead with a run in the third on a Carlos Santana sac fly, with the Phillies countering in the fourth, complements of Raul Ibanez. Raul doubled home Werth and Howard to give the Phils a 4-3 lead. Choo then blasted another two run homer in the fifth to leapfrog the Phils, 5-4. In the seventh, an unlikely source of power, Brian Schneider, led off the inning with a homer of his own to make it 5-5.
Heads bowed as the Phillies pen once again failed in the ninth. Herndon, Zagurski, and Baez all left unscathed, but it was the two veterans, Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero, who nearly lost it. Durbin allowed a leadoff single in the ninth, which turned into a inherited runner scored for Romero. The Indians led it 6-5 and the heat inside Citizens Bank Park became even more apparent. To make matters worse, Durbin pulled up lame and will likely require a DL stint with a hamstring strain. An injury to Durbin depletes an already battered core of relief pitchers.
Luckily for those guys, it was the previously 0-for-8 Rollins that provided the heroics. The offense as a whole showed up tonight, too. Werth put together three hits, including a home run. Howard had his team-leading 27th multi-hit game of the year, propping his average back to .297. Brian Schneider jumped in on the action with his home run. Big hits from the entire lineup is a REAL sign that this could be a turn around.
But it’s the guy at the top who will take the acclaim, and deservedly so. Rollins, the spark plug of the offense, is finally repaired. Does his presence fix what ails this club? Tonight certainly points to yes. Rollins even told Charlie Manuel after the game, “I got one didn’t I.” Yep, a big one.