LOS ANGELES -- Whether or not he gets to play in this National League Division Series, Jimmy Rollins can offer the Dodgers one unique quality: He sure knows how to beat the Mets. He can get under their skin, too.
It took a little prodding before the Dodgers' final pre-playoffs workout Thursday morning, but he did smile when he thought back to 2007, a year that he began with the January boast that his Phillies were "the team to beat in the NL East -- finally.'' He said that despite the fact the Mets had won the division in 2006, beating the Phillies by 12 games. And he backed it up by having a Most Valuable Player season and leading the Phillies to a title that was decided on the last day of the season.
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"Any moments? There are a few,'' he said in the Dodgers clubhouse a day before Game 1 against the Mets. "One I remember vividly, we were playing at Shea Stadium. I can't remember the pitcher's name, a tall righthander they had, threw a good changeup. He just kept getting me out, kept getting me out. It was kind of like that moment if we got to a 3-2 count, I'm like, 'You know what? You fooled me too many times throwing a changeup. I'm going to sit on it.' He threw it. I hit a home run and that kind of started our comeback in '07.''
Not quite. That shot against Aaron Heilman occurred on June 6 and left the Phillies six games back, but it definitely helped Rollins' confidence.
"Then another moment was when I think we had a four-game set. We were down maybe 10 games at the time. We won all four games,'' he said, referring to a late August series that ended with a Chase Utley walk-off hit against Billy Wagner. Rollins, who was on first base at the time, recalls Tadahito Iguchi crossing the plate and Mets catcher Paul LoDuca leaving the field, disconsolate. The shortstop recalled thinking, "Yes, we got them.
"Even if we hadn't come back to win that year, we handled our business when we needed to. It just happened that they kept winning and we kept losing,'' he said.
This season, of course, is a completely different universe. Rollins is in his first season away from Philadelphia, having been traded here Dec. 19. And he has lost his starting job to minor-league callup Corey Seager.
Plus, these are totally different Mets. "I know obviously about the second half they had, especially after the few trades, and they're playing good baseball,'' he said. "But playing against them, I saw the makings of it, with the staff they had. It actually happened sooner than a lot of people expected it. As long as they did, that's all that really counted.''