NEW YORK - New York has its share of villains.
Reggie Miller. John Rocker. Pretty much the entire Boston Red Sox team.
But Jimmy Rollins isn't sure New York can hate him enough to move into villain status, even after he hit a three-run home run in last night's 4-2 victory over the New York Mets at Shea Stadium. Rollins has been booed constantly at Shea since he called the Phillies the team to beat in the National League East.
"I think I smile too much," Rollins said, naturally, with a smile. "Maybe if I was a mean guy I'd make for a good villain. But I enjoy playing the game. Eventually you get tired being mad at a happy guy."
Someone mentioned that Chase Utley could help Rollins with a steely stare.
"That's not me," Rollins said. "If I had that look, yeah, I definitely think I'd make for a good villain. But it takes too much energy to keep that going. . . . I hope I could be a Reggie Miller. Shoot, that would be great."
The up-and-down Phillies (30-29) could sweep the Mets with a victory tonight.
A three-game sweep after a 2-5 homestand, which followed a sweep in Atlanta?
Someone please connect these dots.
Phillies righthander Adam Eaton allowed five hits and two runs in six innings last night, but the Mets entered the seventh with a 2-0 lead.
The Phillies received some good fortune when Mets righthander Orlando Hernandez, who pitched six scoreless innings, left after 99 pitches. Righthander Aaron Heilman took over and walked Aaron Rowand to start the inning. Abraham Nuñez followed with a single to left-center, and Rod Barajas' sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third.
Pat Burrell pinch-hit for Eaton and struck out when he couldn't check his swing on a breaking ball low in the zone. Burrell is hitting .128 (5 for 39) with no extra-base hits and two RBIs since May 20.
Rollins stepped up.
The shortstop had not homered since April 27, but he smoked a 1-2 change-up from Heilman to right field for a three-run blast.
It snapped a homerless streak of 159 at-bats, his longest stretch without a homer since he went 159 at-bats without one in August and September 2005.
Rollins, who went 3 for 4 with a walk, jabbed his finger into the air as he rounded first.
He touched home plate and pointed to the sky. Then he pointed into the stands.
Wait a second, was he . . . pointing at Mr. Met?
"My mom, dad, sister and little cousin," he said. "Nah, I didn't even see Mr. Met."
But the bottom of the seventh started ominously. Geoff Geary botched a ball that rolled up the first-base line to allow Ruben Gotay to reach on an error. David Newhan followed with a double to put runners on second and third with no outs.
Good-bye lead, right?
Pinch-hitter Julio Franco hit a ball up the first-base line, but Ryan Howard dove to stop it. He got up and touched first for the first out. Gotay probably should have scored, but he froze instead.
Geary intentionally walked Jose Reyes to load the bases, and Endy Chavez hit a hard grounder up the middle. Rollins scooped it up, touched second, and threw to first for the inning-ending double play.
Geary turned in Rollins' direction and roared with approval.
"Chase was over pretty far, so before that pitch I said pretty much anything hit at me, I'm going to have to run over and take it myself because it's going to be a long run for Chase," Rollins said. "Luckily, he hit the ball toward the bag, so there wasn't any decision to be made."
Rollins picked up two of the three biggest plays of the game in 15 minutes. (Shane Victorino threw out Carlos Delgado at the plate in the fourth to end the inning.)
So, a sweep?
It's Cole Hamels vs. New York's John Maine tonight. And Rollins certainly will try his best to elevate his villain status, even if he thinks it's a losing effort with his smile.
"We're still far back, but I'm glad that I was able to do it in a big situation," Rollins said. "It's a great place to do it, in New York against this team."