As anyone would expect, they jumped at the chance to let him have it.
After boasting about his team in spring training, Philadelphia’s All-Star shortstop made a key error as the Mets rallied for seven runs in the eighth inning to win their home opener 11-5 Monday.
“We talked. Now we’ve got to back it up,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Carlos Delgado had three hits and two RBIs for the Mets, who overcame Ryan Howard’s three-run homer and roughed up Philadelphia’s shaky bullpen in the first of 18 meetings between the division rivals.
The struggling Phillies dropped to 1-6, yet another disappointing start for a team with title aspirations. Philadelphia also lost six of its first seven games last year and in 2004.
Those early slumps have helped keep Philadelphia out of the playoffs since 1993, but Rollins voiced his confidence in spring training. He said Philadelphia was the team to beat in the NL East even though the Mets won the division by 12 games last season.
“No regrets. I said what I said,” Rollins reiterated.
But Mets fans took particular delight in his failures Monday. He grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to end the fourth and booted a grounder in the eighth that helped New York break the game open.
After his error, the shortstop was serenaded with chants of “Jimmy Rollins! Jimmy Rollins!” from the crowd of 56,227—the largest opening-day attendance in Mets history. Rollins also was booed loudly during pregame introductions.
“I like it. I do. They say something, you wave at them. Give ‘em thumbs up,” he said. “They were cracking on me pretty good. I’ve been booed, but not like this. It was kind of fun.”
Howard, the NL MVP last year, hit his first home run of the season off Ambiorix Burgos to give the Phillies a 5-3 lead in the sixth.
But Delgado’s two-out RBI single against left-hander Matt Smith cut it to 5-4 in the seventh, and New York broke loose in the eighth to improve to 5-2.
Jose Reyes drove in the tying run with a grounder that Rollins botched, leaving the bases loaded.
“I didn’t see Jimmy’s comments as chirping. I think Jimmy said what he honestly felt to be the truth,” New York closer Billy Wagner said. “I don’t think his teammates would respect him very much if he said, `We’re shooting for second place again.”’
Geary’s run-scoring wild pitch gave the Mets the lead and Carlos Beltran hit a sacrifice fly against Jon Lieber, just off the disabled list and making his first relief appearance since 1998 with Pittsburgh.
David Wright added a two-run double, and Alou made it 11-5 with a two-run single—his first RBIs with the Mets.
“It reminded me a lot of last year, the way we battled and never gave up,” Wright said.
Pedro Feliciano (1-0) pitched a perfect eighth for the win. After Howard’s homer, New York’s bullpen retired its final 10 batters—with five strikeouts— and did not allow a ball out of the infield.
“We cannot assume that it’s going to knock them down,” Delgado said. “We have to come back Wednesday and put pressure on them again.”
Chase Utley also homered for the first time this season, and Cole Hamels pitched six solid innings for the Phillies. Shane Victorino preserved the lead in the seventh with a tumbling catch in right field.
Philadelphia gave away a run in the fifth after the 6-foot-4, 256-pound Howard collided with third baseman Abraham Nunez on the mound as they tried to catch Reyes’ popup. The ball fell in, and Reyes was safe at second. Howard was charged with an error.
Nunez, who took an elbow to the face, stayed down for a few moments but remained in the game. Reyes scored on Delgado’s sacrifice fly for a 3-2 Mets lead.
“Right now we are just out of sync,” Manuel said. “We do some great things, and the rest of our game falls apart. … I think we’ve got to fix our bullpen, yes. If we have the people in house, good.”
The Phillies loaded the bases with none out in the third and fourth, but managed only one run on Utley’s third-inning sacrifice fly.
Mets starter John Maine lasted just 4 2-3 innings. He walked six, struck out four and left with the score tied at 2.
Mets RHP Duaner Sanchez is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday to repair a hairline fracture in his pitching shoulder. … Wright extended his career-best hitting streak to 19 games, dating to last season. … Nunez was making his first start this season. … Delgado led off the second with a bunt single against an overshifted infield.