Holliday doesn't skip a beat
Slugger continues to lead Rox attack with Game 1 homer
PHILADELPHIA -- MVP ballots are already cast, so the home run Matt Holliday hit Wednesday in Game 1 of the NLDS won't help him beat out Jimmy Rollins, but it helped the Rockies beat the Phillies.
It was the insurance run in a 4-2 victory, an eighth-inning blast off Tom Gordon that underscored how valuable Holliday is to a team on an all-time franchise roll. He came into the at-bat 0-for-3, which included a bases-loaded strikeout to kill a three-run rally in the second inning.
Holliday began that second-inning at-bat against starter Cole Hamels with a drive that started out looking like a grand slam but just peeled foul.
"I felt I hit that ball about as hard as I can hit a ball," he said.
Then he swung through a 2-2 breaking ball that kept Hamels, and the Phillies, in the game.
"This is the playoffs, and it's not easy," said Holliday. "You're facing a great pitcher and he made a great pitch, exactly where he wanted it. You tip your cap. I've never faced him and it takes time to adjust. Now I see why he won 15 games. You don't get discouraged, you look for a mistake pitch the next time. You look for something you can drive and handle. That was my mindset, get something I could hammer, and, luckily, I got one."
So he rode the proverbial elevator in this game, shaking off the disappointment of earlier at-bats to deliver a knockout blow late. He also tapped out to first baseman Ryan Howard and smoked a one-hopper that third baseman Wes Helms seemingly gloved in self-defense before throwing him out.
"A big hit in a big moment," teammate Garrett Atkins said of Holliday's home run. "It's nothing new for us."
Holliday's home run silenced the sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park that had done a pretty good job of heckling Holliday. The noticeable skin burn on his chin suffered Monday night while scoring the run that put the Rockies in the playoffs provided Phillies fans bonus material to chirp about, when they weren't telling Holliday that he doesn't rank with their favorite son MVP candidate, Rollins.
"They told me I stink, but most crowds tell you you stink, anyway," he said. "I picked up a few words and I heard about the chin, but mostly I didn't notice what they were saying. Nobody should mess with me on the streets of Philly, unless they saw the game.
"Jimmy's had a great season and I wouldn't expect anything else. The fans are very appreciative of his season.
"As a hitter, if you're worried about what they're saying or anything other than getting a good pitch to hit, you're worried about the wrong things."
Holliday said the Rockies don't play the game worried, anyway. They generally are lacking postseason experience, but that didn't get in their way Wednesday.
"For me, it felt similar to Monday night [the sudden-death win over San Diego], so I think we were prepared for the atmosphere," he said. "We also played what were do-or-die games with the Diamondbacks last week. This one felt similar. It started at a weird time and our routines were off a bit, but other than that it was like a game."
How big was winning the first one on the road?
"It's important, but winning this game doesn't mean we won the series," he said. "But it's nice to win here because they play great here."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.