Baseball / Sports

Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins waves during a pregame ceremony in his honor on Monday, June 23, 2014, in Philadlelphia. (Yong Kim/Philadelphia Daily News/MCT)

Phillies honor Rollins, then fall flat vs. Marlins

PHILADELPHIA -- Before a pitch was thrown Monday, Jimmy Rollins cradled Camryn, his 2-year-old daughter, as both dugouts at Citizens Bank Park filled to the top step. The players were instructed to report by 6:55 p.m. to celebrate Rollins' ascension to Phillies hit king. The shortstop welcomed guests and accepted gifts in an 18-minute ceremony.

To conclude, he grabbed a microphone. "Thank you," Rollins said, "and now let's go play some baseball." Rollins, to start the first inning, rapped a single to right for his 2,242nd career hit. But the Phillies trailed before he squeezed the bat.

Five straight wins generated optimism in a moribund National League East. Three consecutive losses, the latest by 4-0 to Miami, presented realism. The Marlins scored twice in the first inning, moments after Rollins was honored. That happiness soon soured.

The Phillies were shut out for the 10th time. That is their most in a season's first 75 games since 1969. Eight of this year's blankings happened at home, where the Phillies are 16-22.

They awoke Tuesday still mired in last place. They are two games worse than last year's pace, a 73-win season that resulted in Charlie Manuel's termination. And Ryne Sandberg billed this eight-game homestand as an opportunity to demonstrate staying power in the flawed division because Atlanta follows the Marlins to South Philadelphia.

"I would say we're fortunate, with the rest of the division," Sandberg said. "Fortunate. So that's the positive thing. That's the way we're looking at it."

Miami, reeling from an unproductive stay at home, navigated the Phillies with ease Monday. Nathan Eovaldi scattered six hits in six innings; the Phillies advanced a runner to third just once, in the fourth. Ben Revere flied to center with runners on the corners to extinguish the chance.

Roberto Hernandez accomplished what a fifth starter is asked to do: He kept his teammates in the game. The Marlins scored 10 minutes after Hernandez's first pitch on a two-run Casey McGehee double. Hernandez posted five zeros after that.

The Phillies did not want Giancarlo Stanton, Miami's superstar slugger, to beat them. He was twice hit by a pitch and walked once. McGehee, who spent 2013 in Japan, responded to both plunkings with doubles. He is a .309 hitter, which makes avoiding Stanton harder. Rookie Ken Giles was the lone Phillies pitcher to retire Stanton.

Eovaldi, one of the game's hardest-throwing starters, attacked the Phillies. They made solid contact; 11 of Eovaldi's 19 outs were to the outfield. Some were hit well but right at Miami gloves. Cody Asche, at least, looks sharp after a month on the disabled list. He smacked three hits.

As if offensive incompetence was not enough, the Phillies conceded two more runs in the ninth with slipshod defense. Chase Utley bungled the throw on a routine grounder. Antonio Bastardo botched a bunt to him. Both runners scored.

The ceremony for Rollins was both elaborate and wistful. The gigantic scoreboard played Rollins career highlights set to the sound track of Harry Kalas' voice. Congratulatory messages from luminaries such as Gov. Corbett, Nick Foles, Derek Jeter, Rickey Henderson and Jamie Lee Curtis preceded that.

Rollins' extended family sat in two rows of chairs aligned near the backstop. Pat Burrell, his No. 5 Phillies jersey unbuttoned, surprised Rollins. So, too, did former teammates Marlon Anderson, Bobby Abreu and Mike Lieberthal. Abreu, a Mets outfielder with a night to spare, donned his No. 53 in red pinstripes.

Utley and Ryan Howard handed Rollins a silver bat. Mike Stiles, the team's senior vice president, carried two Gucci suitcases as Dan Baker announced an all-expenses paid trip to Italy for the Rollins family.

Rollins thanked team executives, his teammates, and the Philadelphia fans. The 35-year-old shortstop possesses 10-and-5 rights, which means he can reject any trade proposal. He could face such a decision in the next five weeks, and that is why the pomp and circumstance of Monday offered just a twinge of finality.

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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