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Jimmy Rollins' Success To Mirror Phils' Fortune In NL East Race

Scott EisenlohrAnalyst IJuly 1, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 24:  Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies at bat against the New York Yankees on May 24, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Recently Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel sat shortstop Jimmy Rollins down for the entire series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Why? The former MVP of the National League was hitting just above .200 and making mistakes on the field.

Rollins came back last night, in a 5-4 10-inning loss to the Braves and went 0-5. What the Phrig is going on here?

The Phillies, at 39-35 heading into Wednesday's game, are 1.5 games ahead of the Florida Marlins. The Mets could not take advantage of the Phillies recent 11 of 13 loss streak. The Marlins are a young, loose team and will take full advantage if the Phillies slip.

And it starts with Rollins. He is second in the National League All-Star voting behind Florida's Hanley Ramirez. For Rollins to make the All Star team this year would be a joke.

I still believe he is one of the best players in the league, but that being said, with a .207 batting average almost half the way through the season, I can't see him hitting more than .250.

Whether it is the pressure of the season, he is hurt, or he simply lost his ability and confidence, which I doubt, the Phillies will not win without him.

Remember 2007? The team to beat? It won him the MVP and pushed the Phillies into the playoffs.

The bottom half of the lineup is carrying this team. Pedro Feliz is having an All-Star worthy season, hitting .295 and playing terrific defense.

Last night, John Mayberry, Jr. and Feliz hit back-to-back home runs to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning. The Braves scored a run in the bottom of the eighth and then won the game in the 10th inning, 5-4.

Last year, the Phillies were undefeated with the lead after the eighth inning. Brad Lidge was a perfect 41-41 in regular season saves. This ain't 2008.

Ryan Madson could not hold the lead in the eighth and Park was the pitcher of record in the 10th.

It is not Madson-Romero-Lidge for a seventh, eighth, and ninth inning win this year.

So that means the team has to hit better.

If Rollins doesn't hit well in the lead off spot, another option is to move him to the sixth spot in the batting order. That will mess up the bottom half of the line up if he continues to scuffle. And Eric Bruntlett is only a short-term solution.

Something's gotta happen. Raul Ibanez is probably a week away from coming back from a groin injury and he is the team's top hitter.

This is still a strike-out, home run team. And it starts with the top.

Jimmy's gotta get it going, or the season is done.

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