With swagger in his step, Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins made the on-field interview rounds following his walk-off double in Game Four of the NLCS. That familiar confidence seems to never leave the 2007 NL MVP—the pivotal hit that plated two runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers explains why.
With that hit, the Phillies defeated the Dodgers 5-4 and lead the NLCS three games to one.
Rollins and the Phillies became the third team in history that won a game with an extra-base hit when they were one out away from the loss—for once, it was the Dodgers on the losing end of the game.
The only other two teams to do it were the 1988 Dodgers (Kirk Gibson hit a home run off of Oakland A’s Dennis Eckersley in Game One of the World Series) and the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers (Cookie Lavagetto hit a double and broke up Bill Bevens no-hitter in Game Four of the World Series).
On Monday night, with Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton on the mound, Rollins was the last hope. As he stood at the plate, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel looked at Dodger Jim Thome and pointed to the outfield, indicating the longest-tenured Phillie was about to hit it that direction. Manuel may have called it, but it was Rollins who had a plan.
“Really it was funny, right before he threw it, I'd say hit a ball in the right center field gap,” Rollins said during the post-game press conference. “Kemp was playing me slightly to left center. Ethier was squeezing, I was like, ‘hit the ball in the gap right over Broxton's head, that's at least one run.’ And it went all the way to the fence, so we were able to get two and a victory.”
The team punctuated the victory with the obligatory dogpile with the Alameda, Calif. native Rollins curled up at bottom of the group, celebrating and protecting himself at the same time.
“Only thing I didn't want to do was get crushed, so I just kind of went in fetal position and started throwing punches, and whoever got hit, got hit,” explained Rollins. “Ben Francisco did a pretty good job of throwing his arm around my neck and restraining me, so I think I caught the worst of it. So it's a lot of fun, but that's what we do.”
As the stadium erupted with cheers for the defending Champs, fans in bars, homes, and across various forms of social media rejoiced in unison with the Phillies.