CHICAGO - The Room is small - no bigger than 12 by 6 feet. Before Wednesday it was possibly a closet. Inside are three flat-screen TVs, two computers, an air-conditioning unit, and two fans, making it the most modern spot in 97-year-old Wrigley Field.
Vance Worley did not know about The Room until minutes before he twirled eight innings in a 9-1 Phillies drubbing of the sad-sack Cubs. A day before, the 23-year-old pitcher drank eight Gatorades, seven waters, and a Pedialyte to prepare for the heat that conquered Roy Halladay on Monday - only for his sleep to be disrupted by added bathroom trips.
Then, just before the game, a Cubs employee stopped Worley in the dugout tunnel and described heaven. You see, he said, The Room is ready.
"What?" Worley said.
After each spotless frame, Worley retreated to the room, located in a side hallway behind the visitors dugout. He watched the game on TV and sprinted up the tunnel back to the field when it was time to pitch again. A handwritten sign later appeared in the tunnel. "Cooling room 2nd door on right," it said, and so the rest of the Phillies ventured in.
"It was excellent," Jimmy Rollins said.
"Absolutely," Worley said, "it helped."
The Room did not pitch eight innings of one-run ball and prove, once and for all, a rookie pitcher is conditioned to pitch in the majors. But Worley was grateful for the cool.
The Room did not hit home runs from both sides of the plate, score four runs, and remind everyone that a shortstop is having his finest season in some time. But Rollins appreciated the chance to relax.
And no, manager Charlie Manuel never set foot in The Room. He watched from the dugout, which was more like a brick oven on this day when the heat index reached 115, and he loved every minute of it.
"We're looking good," Manuel said.
The Phillies have won eight series in a row. ("If we won two out of three every time, even I can count that up," Manuel joked.) They are a season-high 25 games over .500, and the final 65 games offer nothing more than a chance to tinker for the postseason. They defeated an inferior team two days in a row, but that should not diminish Wednesday's performance.
Worley's eight innings were a career high, and he struck out seven. Since rejoining the rotation in mid-June, Worley has a 0.94 ERA in six starts. His stellar effort Wednesday actually raised his ERA during that span.
Rollins homered twice, once from each side of the plate. It was just the fourth time in Phillies history that feat has been accomplished. After a 3-for-5 day, Rollins is hitting .277 with a .754 OPS - both numbers would be personal bests since 2008 for the shortstop.
Is there some contract-year motivation at hand?
"I play baseball the same way every single day and the numbers are going to be what they are," Rollins said. "I mean, you are who you are."
Right now, Rollins is the leadoff hitter Manuel has always envisioned. The hitters behind him, Michael Martinez and Chase Utley, each rapped two hits. The lineup combined for seven extra-base hits and pummeled Ryan Dempster.
The secret aid Wednesday was The Room. It previously was an auxiliary trainer's area until a doctor suggested the Cubs renovate it for the players to use as a lounge. The timing didn't help Halladay - who was forced from Monday's game with heat exhaustion - but it was welcomed Wednesday.
"Players were visiting quite often," Rollins said. "Most of the guys that weren't in the game were in there. I went in there about every other inning just to go watch some TV."
On the field, they exerted their will over a hapless team. Inside The Room, the Phillies relaxed - another successful day complete.
Two at a Time
Here are the Phillies who have hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game:
Steve Jeltz: June 8, 1989
Tomas Perez: July 24, 2001
Jimmy Rollins: Aug. 12, 2006, and July 20, 2011
- Matt GelbEndText
Worley on a Winning Roll
Here is how Phillies rookie Vance Worley, 6-1 for the season, has fared over his last four starts:
W-L ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG.
3-0 0.71 25.1 12 2 2 0 12 19 .143