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Rollins rewards manager's confidence

Rollins rewards manager's confidence

PHILADELPHIA -- Slumping Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was still smiling after a brutal three-strikeout Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday. He was still smiling after Sunday's Game 2, and this time he actually had something to smile about.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel decided against bumping Rollins up in the batting order, and that non-move paid off. Rollins worked a bases-loaded walk in the first inning, was awarded an infield single in the fourth when a popup fell between a trio of Giants, and he delivered a bases-clearing three-run double in the seventh that broke the game open.


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It qualified as a breakthrough for Rollins, who entered the night 1-for-15 this postseason.

"But you don't celebrate until you win four games," he said. "And once we get to that point, then you can look back and say, 'That was a big hit,' but for now, it just gave us a little breathing room, a chance to go into San Francisco [with the series tied at 1]."

The big night may have given Rollins some personal breathing room, too. He was 0-for-4 in Game 1 against the Giants, with three strikeouts, including a whiff against San Francisco closer Brian Wilson in the eighth inning with a runner at first base representing the tying run.

The slow postseason start continued a down year for the Phillies' usual leadoff man, who battled leg injuries throughout and batted .243 in the regular season.

He slipped from first to sixth in Manuel's batting order, but never out of it. That, Manuel insisted, never even crossed his mind.

"You know what, when you show me you can do something, when I see it and I trust in you ... [I will] stay right with you, son," Manuel said. "I'll go down with you."

J-Roll gets rollin'
Most RBIs by a Phillie in a playoff game
Player Date Gm Opp. RBI
R. Howard 10/26/08 WS 4 T.B. 5
M. Thompson 10/20/93 WS 4 Tor. 5
J. Rollins 10/17/10 NLCS 2 S.F. 4
C. Utley 11/2/09 WS 5 NYY 4
J. Werth 10/21/09 NLCS 5 L.A. 4
S. Victorino 10/10/08 NLCS 2 L.A. 4
P. Burrell 10/5/08 NLDS 4 Mil. 4
S. Victorino 10/2/08 NLDS 2 Mil. 4
J. Rollins 10/4/07 NLDS 2 Col. 4
L. Dykstra 10/20/93 WS 4 Tor. 4
G. Matthews 10/7/83 NLCS 3 L.A. 4
S. Carlton 10/6/78 NLCS 3 L.A. 4
S. Victorino 10/21/09 NLCS 5 L.A. 3
S. Victorino 10/18/09 NLCS 3 L.A. 3
R. Howard 10/18/09 NLCS 3 L.A. 3
C. Ruiz 10/15/09 NLCS 1 L.A. 3
R. Ibanez 10/15/09 NLCS 1 L.A. 3
B. Myers 10/10/08 NLCS 2 L.A. 3
L. Dykstra 10/23/93 WS 6 Tor. 3
D. Daulton 10/20/93 WS 4 Tor. 3
J. Eisenreich 10/17/93 WS 2 Tor. 3
J. Kruk 10/9/93 NLCS 3 Atl. 3
G. Matthews 10/8/83 NLCS 4 L.A. 3
B. McBride 10/14/80 WS 1 K.C. 3
F. Luderus 10/13/15 WS 5 Bos. 3
Manuel has taken the same approach with other hitters during down times. He recalled a conversation with left fielder Raul Ibanez earlier this season in which the player said, "I got myself into it and I need a chance to get myself out of it."

"And, like, he did," Manuel said. "I know how good Jimmy Rollins can be. ... I've got a lot of faith in him and I stand there and I pull for him, and I know how good he can hit and also I know how much he wants to be up there."

Rollins described his slump like he heard Manuel do it, dead-on Southern accent and all: "It's part of it."

He's glad to have been given a chance to hit his way out of it.

"That's what a good manager does," Rollins said. "He keeps running his guys up there and wants you to know that he has your back, regardless. You're the guy that he chose. And until you run yourself into the ground, he's going to keep pushing you out there. As a player, you say, 'You know what, I have a chance today. I didn't do anything, but tomorrow I know I'm going to be out there, and I have a chance tomorrow.' If it doesn't happen, you're still going to get run out there. You figure sooner or later, it's going to turn the corner."

Might that day have come Sunday?

Rollins worked a bases-loaded walk on a very close pitch from Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez in the first inning -- Sanchez's third free pass of the inning. In the fourth inning, Rollins led off with a popup that should have been caught near the pitcher's mound, but Sanchez, third baseman Mike Fontenot and catcher Buster Posey all let it drop. Rollins might have had another hit in the sixth had his Giants counterpart -- shortstop Edgar Renteria, a late addition to the San Francisco starting lineup -- not made a juggling over-the-shoulder catch in shallow center field.

Rollins made sure nobody could get to his hit in the seventh, a stinging double that wiped the loaded bases clean. That clutch hit turned a 3-1 Phillies lead into a 6-1 Phils win.

"I've been the same for the last 10 years, and ... you figure out things," Rollins said. "You solve problems. Sometimes there's going to be confusion. But once you lose the confidence, you're not going to have a chance to play at this level.

"So that's never going to be there. God gave me this talent, and I'm going to do something with it. That's just the way it is. You lose confidence in that, like I said, you'll be going home, and I don't plan on doing that anytime soon."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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