Rollins reflects on top five hits of career
Shortstop one hit away from passing Mike Schmidt as all-time Phillies leader
PHILADELPHIA -- Jimmy Rollins is almost there.
Rollins doubled to right field in the ninth inning Friday night at Citizens Bank Park for the 2,234th hit of his career, tying Mike Schmidt's club record.
Rollins has had clutch hits, milestone hits and other memorable hits in his career. But with Rollins just one knock away from history, here is a look at five of his most memorable hits over his 15-year career, including two big ones from the postseason:
Sunday, Sept. 17, 2000, vs. Marlins at Veterans Stadium
Third-inning triple against Florida right-hander Chuck Smith.
It was the first hit of Rollins' career.
"Relief. No butterflies, but nervous for sure. Like frozen nervous. Swing the bat, swing the bat. How come the bat isn't moving? I finally took a swing and -- pow. Off the bat, I knew it was a triple. Actually, when I hit it, I didn't think [the ball] was going to run. It was over the first baseman's head and I'm like, 'Perfect.' I went back and looked at the footage, and that ball went a little further than I thought it went. It got down the line a little bit. It was nice. But I had a triple in my mind. I remember coming around first, and halfway between first and second, I'm looking at Vuke [third-base coach John Vukovich]. And he's over there just swinging that arm. I was like, 'Yeah, buddy. He's calling me.' I think he wanted it just so he could wave me in. He loved triples. Vuke, he loved triples. He loved that. I came around first and he was like, 'You're coming.' OK, I'm coming."
Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2005, vs. Mets at Citizens Bank Park
Seventh-inning single against Mets right-hander Juan Padilla.
The hit broke Ed Delahanty's franchise-record 31-game hitting streak. Rollins finished with a 38-game hitting streak, which included the first two games in 2006.
"I wasn't feeling good that night. I went to the cage with Tomas Perez. 'Just give me some flips real quick,' because I needed to change my stance just to make an adjustment for that night, because I was a little bit off. And I did exactly what I did in the cage in the game. I was able to take it right in and single up the middle. After that, I knew I was good. I was like, 'All right, just keep hitting until they get me out.' That was the only night I felt that I might not have a shot, because I just did not feel good at all [at the plate]."
Sunday, Sept. 30, 2007, vs. Nationals at Citizens Bank Park
Sixth-inning triple against Nats left-hander Luis Ayala as the Phillies clinched their first National League East championship since 1993.
It was Rollins' 20th triple of the season, which made him just the fourth player in baseball history to have at least 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season. Rollins, who won the NL Most Valuable Player Award that year, joined Willie Mays (1957), Frank Schulte (1911) and Curtis Granderson (2007). Rollins had been 0-for-11 in his career against Ayala before that at-bat.
"I knew there was only one way I was getting a triple, and it happened almost exactly the way I said. I said, 'A line drive off the wall out there in right field and let it bounce back.' But it took one hop and bounced back. I knew it was the only way I could get a triple. More than that, it was more so the pitcher. Luis Ayala just gets me out, always had. I might have had one hit off of him in a whole bunch of at-bats. I was like, 'Damn it. Of all the people, they've got to bring him in and I need this 20th triple.' It wasn't an easy at-bat. Kind of like that Kirk Gibson-Dennis Eckersley at-bat. As sure I'm standing here, you're going to throw me that slider. I said the same thing, 'You're going to throw me that damn slider, aren't you?' As many times as I've stood up there and said, 'You're going to throw me that sinker in,' and he threw me a slider, finally, I was like, 'He's going to throw me that slider.' And he did. It worked out. Right off the bat, I knew it was a double. When I saw it bounce off the wall, knowing Austin Kearns was in right, it was like I spoke it into existence. It bounced off that green thing, bounced toward the infield and I'm going to have to keep going."
Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008, vs. Dodgers at Dodger Stadium
Leadoff home run against Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley.
It handed the Phils a 1-0 lead in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series, which they won to clinch their first NL pennant since 1993.
"I wasn't feeling great. I was like, 'Man, I don't know if I've got it today.' Then it was 2-2, fouling off pitches, it got to 3-2. I was like, 'You know what? Swing the bat.' You know what he's going to do to you. He's going to throw you a little backdoor, something out over the plate. It's not really a cutter, but he had some movement out there, a little action, just the natural way he throws the ball. Then I was like, 'He doesn't know how I feel.' I just kind of stood up, perked up, like, all right. Pop. 1-0. The series before that in Milwaukee, same thing (leadoff homer in Game 4 clincher Oct. 5 at Miller Park). I remember Pat (Burrell) saying when I hit that home run -- he knew that we were going to win that game. Man, that's pretty cool. I had that feeling, too. But the best part is 1-0. They're already behind before the game gets going. It takes it out of them. They're coming in already down and they're a good team. They're thinking, 'If we get through this first inning, we're going to jump on them.' They have to be thinking that. They have to be thinking, put us down early. But it's 1-0. It was great. It was great."
Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2009, vs. Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park
Ninth-inning, two-out double against Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton scores two runs in a 5-4 walk-off victory in Game 4 of the NLCS.
It gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Phils clinched their second consecutive NL pennant two nights later.
"That was pretty cool. I knew I didn't want that slider. (laughs) That's the only thing I didn't want. I was like, 'As long as I don't get to two strikes I have a shot.' I got a 1-1 fastball. You're either the hero or the goat in that situation. I hadn't been in that moment in that situation before. That was the first time. I just knew I needed a single and the game is tied. Worst-case scenario then is we go to extra innings. That was fine with me. I had come to that conclusion. It would be nice to hit a home run. That would be the ultimate play. But if I get a single, I've done my job and I'll pass it to the next guy. That was our mentality. Pass it to the next guy and the next guy. If they don't want you to do it, let the next guy do it."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.