That was the only bright spot for the Phillies, who try to bounce back from a lopsided defeat to the St. Louis Cardinals when the teams play Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.
After working the count to 3-0 against Adam Wainwright, Rollins doubled to right in the eighth inning Monday in what would be his final at-bat in a 13-5 loss.
He’ll be going for 38 in a row, 18 shy of Joe DiMaggio’s major league record and seven behind Willie Keeler for the National League mark.
“If he had thrown a ball and I couldn’t get to it, I wouldn’t have swung,” said Rollins, who has extended his streak eight times in his final at-bat. “I wasn’t going to give the at-bat away.”
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said he won’t pitch around Rollins, no matter the game situation, meaning the Phillies shortstop should see plenty of pitches to hit against Cardinals starter Mark Mulder on Wednesday.
“Some of that is him, but mostly it’s about us,” La Russa said. “I wouldn’t want the St. Louis Cardinals to walk him in his last at-bat. That’s not what we represent.”
Mulder went 16-8 with a 3.64 ERA last season, his first in the NL after coming over from Oakland. The left-hander also made his first start of the season against Philadelphia last year, pitching six innings and allowing four runs in St. Louis’ 6-5 victory April 8. He did not earn the decision.
Rollins was 1-for-5 in that game and is 4-for-8 lifetime against Mulder.
Rollins’ double was the only excitement Monday for the Phillies, who trailed 13-2 after five innings. Albert Pujols hit two home runs, second baseman Aaron Miles was 4-for-5 and Scott Rolen went 3-for-5 for the Cardinals, including a grand slam during an eight-run fourth inning.
Rolen ended any lingering doubts about whether he was fully recovered from a shoulder injury that ended his season after only 56 games in 2005.
“I’ll take three hits on opening day anywhere,” Rolen said. “I felt better the last two weeks of spring. I felt I could drive the ball. Things change when you get in a major league stadium, the atmosphere changes, the ball seems to travel a little farther.”
Philadelphia will start Brett Myers on Wednesday. He went 13-8 with a 3.72 ERA last season and won his only start against St. Louis, pitching seven innings and allowing three runs with nine strikeouts and no walks in the Phillies’ 7-4 home victory May 19.
Rolen is 7-for-13 against Myers, while Pujols is hitting .412 (7-for-17) with a homer and three RBIs against the right-hander.
Already tied for the eighth-longest hitting streak in history, Rollins needs hits in his next two games to tie Paul Molitor for seventh. Molitor hit safely in 39 straight games in 1987.
“You don’t get rewarded for good swings,” Rollins said. “I wasn’t worried. As long as my swing is there, I know I’ll get a hit somehow.”
The three-game series concludes Thursday afternoon.