Phillies don't let up in blowout of Braves
Rollins' grand slam helps put dent in Atlanta's playoff plans
ATLANTA -- Would the Phillies come to play this weekend?
Manager Charlie Manuel had answered that question numerous times since his team clinched its fourth consecutive National League East title Monday. Manuel understandably planned to rest some players -- notably starting pitchers Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt -- in preparation for the NL Division Series beginning Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park. But he also had no plans to just give three games to the Braves at Turner Field.
Manuel said he expects to win every day.
Combine that with the Braves fighting to win the Wild Card and the Phils weren't going to roll over.
It showed in Friday's 11-5 victory at Turner Field.
"We go out there to play baseball to win," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "Every game, Charlie isn't going to let you sit there and get complacent. You don't look like you want to play he'll escort you out of the game. You go out there and you play the game the right way. You execute. You go out there expecting to win. Other than the record, the games don't technically mean much, but we know we still have to keep it going because in a couple days, the real fun starts and wins and losses count."
The Phillies started six of their eight regulars as Rollins' two-out grand slam to left field in the sixth inning turned a 3-2 lead into a 7-2 cushion. Right-hander Kyle Kendrick allowed five hits and two runs in five innings to pick up the win.
Rollins smacking a first-pitch fastball from Braves left-hander Michael Dunn just over the left-field wall is an encouraging sign with just two more regular-season games to play before the playoffs. Rollins has started just twice since Sept. 8 because of a strained right hamstring. The Phils are hoping he can pick up his timing so he is ready for the Reds, or whomever they face next week.
"My goal is to get ready for the playoffs," Rollins said. "Get as many at-bats as they let me, do as much as I can with them and learn what I did right and also what I did wrong because in the playoffs, every single thing counts. You don't get that 'tomorrow' feeling. ... I felt pretty good every single at-bat I've had since I've been back. My leg, I can push it if I absolutely needed to. Defensively, I feel good."
Kendrick pitched well in his final start of 2010. He finished the season 11-10 with a 4.73 ERA.
But he finds himself in an interesting situation. The Phillies offered the idea Friday they could carry just 10 pitchers into the NLDS because they figure to use few pitchers with Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels starting every game and three days off during the eight-day, five-game series. If the Phils feel they could survive with just 10 pitchers, right-hander Joe Blanton likely would be the long man. If they felt they needed a second left-hander, that could bump out Kendrick for left-hander Antonio Bastardo.
If Philadelphia carries 11 pitchers, Kendrick has a better chance to make the postseason roster.
Manuel bristled when asked if Kendrick had earned a spot on the postseason roster, but at the very least, Kendrick made a case for himself Friday.
"I'd say we have the top three pitchers in the National League," Kendrick said. "I don't think I'll be starting. You never know, anything can happen. I don't think they need me for Game 1. We'll see."
Bastardo allowed two hits, but struck out three in one inning. He has struck out six in the last two innings he has pitched.
J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin and Jose Contreras combined to throw two scoreless innings before Mike Zagurski and David Herndon pitched the ninth.
The Braves needed to win Friday. They need to win even more Saturday and Sunday. But if they thought the Phillies might lose their edge this weekend and roll over, the NL East champs showed them differently Friday.
"Yeah, I think we showed them that," Manuel said. "Yeah."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.