In 2006, and again in 2007, the Phillies opened the season at home. And when the time came to embark on their first trip, they left town without a victory.
That won't happen in 2008. And for that, they can thank their MVP shortstop.
Jimmy Rollins led off the 10th inning Thursday by legging out an infield single. Then, when Shane Victorino dropped down a sacrifice bunt, Rollins realized that none of the Nationals bothered to cover third base. He didn't stop running around second and beat both shortstop Christian Guzman and a throw from Ronnie Belliard to third.
|Jimmy Rollins slides safely into third after moving up two bases on a sacrifice bunt against the Washington Nationals. The play put the Phillies in position to pick up an 11-10 win over the Nats. (Photo:Tom Mihalek/AP)|
Although Rollins left the clubhouse without talking to the media, his
teammates couldn't stop talking about the play that likely won the game.
"I told him, 'I don't know if I've seen that more than five times,'" right fielder Geoff Jenkins said. "You have to have the speed first. You have to have the instincts. And you have to have the guts. If you get thrown out at third there, you're the goat. You have to know you can make it. He's the MVP. That's what they do. They do things at special times to help you win games. It's an instinct play. You can't teach that. Jimmy has the 'it' factor, if you will."
Added Victorino, "It was great baserunning and great instincts. It shows the smarts he has in the game."
PHILLIES 8, NATIONALS 7 (10 innings): Jayson Werth drew a bases-loaded
walk, after back-to-back intentional walks to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, in
the 10th inning to give the Phillies their first win of 2008. The Phillies
rallied from a 5-0 first-inning deficit. Jamie Moyer allowed six runs, three
earned, and the defense committed four errors. But the Phillies rallied to forge
a 7-6 lead with seven consecutive singles in the sixth inning. Geoff Jenkins
finished 3-for-5 with one RBI.
Things you should know:
- Brad Lidge allowed a solo home run in the first inning Thursday night in what is expected to be his final minor league tune-up for Class A Clearwater. Lidge, who opened the season on the disabled list while he tried to build arm strength after arthroscopic knee surgery Feb. 25, is eligible to be activated before Saturday's game in Cincinnati. Lidge allowed two hits in his lone inning during Clearwater's season opener.
- Kyle Kendrick's quest to prove his surprising 2007 wasn't a fluke begins Friday in Cincinnati. Kendrick, who went 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA after being called up from Class AA in June, will make his 2008 debut against the Reds after answering questions about his major league staying power throughout a poor spring training. Kendrick spent most of the spring trying to develop his changeup and throw inside to lefties. "Now it's about going out and having success," Kendrick said. "It's not really working on anything at this point."
- Geoff Jenkins had his first big game for the Phillies on Thursday. Starting in right field against Nationals RHP Jason Bergmann, Jenkins finished 3-for-5 with one RBI. He singled and scored in the Phillies' six-run sixth inning. Jenkins, an 11-year veteran, signed a two-year, $13 million contract with the Phillies in December and is expected to split time in right with Jayson Werth.
- Rudy Seanez's first outing for the Phillies couldn't have gone more smoothly. Seanez, who signed with the Phillies on Wednesday after being released last week by the Los Angeles Dodgers, entered in the sixth inning Thursday with the Nationals leading 6-1. He got pitcher Jason Bergmann to fly out, then got top-of-the-order threats Christian Guzman and Lastings Milledge to ground out. And after the Phillies scored seven runs in the sixth, Seanez was in line to get the victory until the Nationals scored the tying run against Ryan Madson in the eighth inning.
- Tom Gordon got into - and out of - a major jam in the ninth inning Thursday. Gordon, rocked for five runs in the ninth inning of the Phillies' Opening Day loss, allowed a one-out single to Nick Johnson and walked Ronnie Belliard. He loaded the bases on a two-out walk to Jesus Flores before getting Paul Lo Duca to ground to first base. "I have to use Monday's game as motivation," Gordon said. "I have to believe. I didn't come this far not to have fun and help this team win games."
- Chris Coste's recently released autobiography, "The 33-Year-Old Rookie," is being sold by vendors at Citizens Bank Park. In his first start of 2008, Coste continued to build his legend by cracking a solo home run in the third inning Thursday. Coste added a single and scored a run in the Phillies' six-run sixth inning and drew a walk in the ninth.