PHILADELPHIA -- Jimmy Rollins and Juan Pierre both had big hits to help the Phillies earn a much-needed series win against the Padres.
Later, in the clubhouse, each contributed something that might be just as important: perspective.
Even after beating the Padres, 3-2, Sunday behind Cole Hamels (5-1), who allowed one run on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts in seven innings at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies are just 16-19. That's not the type of start an organization that has become accustomed to going to the playoffs had in mind. And the sellout crowd -- the regular-season streak reached 220 games Sunday -- has been restive.
This is the Phillies' slowest start since 2007, which as it turns out, was the year that Rollins declared them the team to beat in the National League East even before Spring Training started, then backed it up with an MVP season.
He's not matching the numbers he put up then, hitting just .230, which led to this recent exchange with his mom.
I know what you can get me for Mother's Day.
I've already sent you something.
Not that. You need to get your average up.
Rollins opened the bottom of the first with his first home run, and just his sixth extra-base hit, of the season to get the Phillies off on the right foot. After the game, somebody observed that the Phillies have been in this position before. In both 2007 and 2008 they had to come from off the pace to beat the Mets down the stretch.
"I would say it feels different," he said. "The cast is completely different. In that regard, it's brand new to a lot of guys here, with the expectation of winning and then getting off to a start like this. But the good thing is we believe in ourselves, even though it hasn't shown up on the field yet. We know we have a good team. A team that can win series and go on a run and put things together. It just hasn't happened yet."
It happened in '08 and Rollins has the World Series ring to prove it. Pierre, who made the team out of Spring Training after signing a Minor League contract during the winter, also has some hardware. He got his with the Marlins in 2003, a team that won it all after making it to the postseason as a Wild Card.
"You're accustomed to winning a lot here. But I know if you stay around .500 in August, you'll have a chance to win. I've been on teams like that and we ended up winning the World Series," said the veteran Pierre, who had two hits including an RBI double in the fifth that proved to be the winning run.
"Winning 102 games [as the Phillies did last season] is good and dandy, but this is real-life baseball. That doesn't come around too often. You've usually got to battle and bust your butt. I hear the commotion here and I'm like, 'We ain't that bad, guys.' I've been on teams where we were a lot worse record-wise than we are now, but I know people get spoiled. You win 102 games, but like I say, this is real-life baseball."
"In [the clubhouse], there's no sense of panic. With the pitching staff we have, we'll hit the ball. We'll get big hits. We might not score 10 or 12 runs, but like today, get a key hit and the pitching staff will hold its own until we get rolling offensively. It's a long season and I guess I'd be panicked, too, if I was coming off a 102-win season, five straight division titles and stuff like that. But I've been on teams that had to scrape and battle and that's what we have to do now."
Rollins said in Spring Training, even without injured stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley available at the start of the season, that he thought the Phillies would be fine if they just executed.
"We just haven't been executing," he said. "All the things are showing up that in the past it seems that we could get away with. 'Don't worry about it, we'll do it next time.' Well, we haven't been getting that next time. So we have to be sure [there's a sense of urgency]."
Manager Charlie Manuel said he's waiting for something, anything, that will bring together a group that has many new faces. Rollins agrees.
"I don't know what it will be, but when it does, it will happen," he said. "You can't sit there and always know what the answer is. If there's a moment, it will happen. At that point, when we look back, we can name it then.
"Every time you win a series you've done your job. Definitely you'd like to bring some sweeps in, get on a roll where you win five or six in a row. We haven't done that yet. But we have to keep winning one game at a time and in the second half, we'll find ourselves in it."
And until then, a little perspective always helps.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.