Howard, Rollins hope to heat up fast
Phils stars are hitting combined 4-for-23 in World Series
PHILADELPHIA -- Jimmy Rollins isn't one to back down.
He had predicted on The Jay Leno Show that the Phillies would win the World Series in five games. With the Yankees' 8-5 win in Game 3 on Saturday, that's now impossible.
"Well, it will be Phillies in six," Rollins said afterward. "That's easy."
But it would be easier if Philadelphia's key bats, so explosive in the National League Championship Series, emerged from their mini-slump. Rollins, whose soft liner to third against Mariano Rivera ended Game 3, is hitting 2-for-10 (.200) in the World Series.
And Ryan Howard, the NLCS MVP, is just 2-for-13 (.154) against New York. He struck out in the first, third and eighth innings, giving him nine for the series. The World Series record is 12, set by Royals outfielder Willie Wilson in 1980 against the Phillies.
"I mean, hey, that's baseball," Howard said. "You have it one day, it may not be there the next day. The only thing you can do is show up again the next day."
He had it for many days early in the postseason, setting a Major League single-postseason record with at least one RBI in eight consecutive games. Over the first two rounds, Howard hit 11-for-31 (.354) with two home runs, 14 RBIs, a triple, seven walks and eight strikeouts.
He has yet to walk in the Fall Classic. He doubled twice in Game 1 and hasn't reached base since, stranding five.
"I don't know, it could be mental, trying to get that big hit," Rollins said. "But he always finds a way. He does. It's his time of year. ... Maybe a nice line drive to left-center gets him right back where he needs to be."
SWING AND MISS
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Howard said that despite the results -- a popout to short and a strikeout -- he felt better in his final two at-bats.
That last strikeout came against Yankees left-hander Damaso Marte, a late-inning reliever he likely will see frequently and against whom he is 0-for-5 with four strikeouts for his career.
Rollins has not been scuffling quite as badly as Howard, but the Phillies still need him hot atop their lineup. During the regular season, they were 13-7 (.650) when he homered, 32-15 (.681) when he recorded two-plus hits and 61-19 (.763) when he scored at least one run.
"At the most, we've got four games to play," manager Charlie Manuel said. "If we're going to get going, it's time for us to do it.
"We're definitely capable of putting runs on the board. It's just a matter of time that we do. We've got to come out with the idea that we're going to get them tomorrow."
If so, perhaps Rollins' latest prediction will come true.
David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.