Jimmy Rollins is a pretty even-tempered guy. He isn’t one to feel or show a lot of anger on the baseball field.
But as Rollins stood in the batter's box with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning Saturday night, he could feel his blood beginning to simmer.
Ultimately, the little bit of rage that had built up inside Rollins turned out to be a good thing. He put a knockout swing on a pitch and lofted a solo home run over the left field wall to give the Phillies a 5-4 win over the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).
Rollins knew he had ended the game the instant his bat connected with Miami lefty Dan Jennings’ 2-2 slider. As Rollins started out of the batter’s box to begin his trot around the bases, he turned toward his own dugout and shouted a few choice words.
At first glance, it appeared as if Rollins might have been emoting toward his teammates. But upon further review, Rollins was giving an earful to a heckler in the box seats.
“Some fan in the stands popping off,” Rollins said. “He was right behind our dugout. He was close enough to yell, and he pissed me off, honestly.”
Rollins said the fan said “something pretty ignorant” after the first pitch of the at-bat. He would not expound.
But Rollins had no qualms recounting what he said to the fan as he broke from the batter’s box.
“I very politely told him to shut the F up,” Rollins said.
And that’s just the way he said it.
“He started chirping right after my first swing,” Rollins said. “I wanted to do it right when he said it, but I still had an at-bat to get through.
“You hear it a lot. A lot of times you want to say something back. This time I was able to.”
Rollins was pressed as to what the fan said that made him so angry.
Again, he would not expound.
“Just a dumb comment,” he said.
Rollins made it clear he found motivation in the dumb comment.
“It worked,” he said with a sly grin. “He did his job.”
The home run was Rollins’ second of the season and his third hit of the game. He scored two of the Phillies’ five runs. After losing four in a row, three to red-hot Milwaukee, the Phillies have come back to beat the NL East rival Marlins two straight nights. The Phils (5-6) go for a sweep of the series on Sunday afternoon.
“Guys are working very hard,” Rollins said. “The work is starting to translate onto the field. The pieces are coming together.”
The top of the batting order came together nicely in this game. Tony Gwynn Jr. batted leadoff for the second straight game and had two hits and scored two runs. Rollins had his three hits and two runs out of the two-hole. Chase Utley, the No. 3 hitter, had two hits and scored a run. Cleanup man Ryan Howard had an RBI single to make up for a bad error that cost the Phils a run in the second inning.
Jonathan Pettibone went just five innings in his first start of the season. The Phils have had just one starter, Cliff Lee, get through the sixth inning on this homestand. That puts a burden on the bullpen that could have long-term ramifications.
Pettibone gave up a 470-foot home run to Giancarlo Stanton in the fifth inning as the Marlins cut the Phillies’ lead to 4-2. Two innings later, Justin De Fratus could not get an out in his second inning of relief. He gave up a single and a booming two-run homer to Stanton as the Marlins tied the game at 4-4.
Antonio Bastardo, Jonathan Papelbon and B.J. Rosenberg combined for three scoreless innings until Rollins homered with two outs in the 10th.
“He swung like a guy who had one thing in mind -- not to play any more extra innings,” manager Ryne Sandberg said.
Rollins is hitting .316 (12 for 38) with two homers and 10 RBIs in his first nine games. (He missed two games on paternity leave.)
“Jimmy is playing well,” Sandberg said. “He’s swinging the bat well. He’s setting the tone at the top of the order and playing good baseball.”