Results tagged ‘ Carlos Ruiz ’
Courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau, here are a couple more nuggets regarding Ben Francisco‘s pinch-hit three-run home run last night:
It is the first time in postseason history a pinch-hitter has had three or more RBIs, accounting for all of his team’s runs. Only one pinch-hitter had two RBIs, accounting for all of his team’s runs: Kansas City’s Dane Iorg against the Cardinals in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. That’s otherwise known as the “Don Denkinger Game.”
Francisco hit because Cardinals manager Tony La Russa intentionally walked Carlos Ruiz to face him. Since 2000, there have been five lead-changing postseason home runs following an intentional walk.
La Russa has been victim of three of them:
- San Francisco’s Benito Santiago in Game 4 of the 2002 NLCS. He intentionally walked Barry Bonds.
- Houston’s Jeff Kent in Game 5 of the 2004 NLCS. He intentionally walked Lance Berkman.
- Francisco in Game 2 of the 2011 NLDS. He intentionally walked Ruiz.
Now, I’m not going to say it was crazy La Russa intentionally walked Ruiz to face Francisco. La Russa said Ruiz “terrorizes” them, which is a bit of an exaggeration. But Ruiz has hit the Cardinals well. He has hit .310 with eight doubles, two homers, 13 RBIs and an .818 OPS in 33 regular-season games against St. Louis, although he was hitless in the first two games of the NLDS. But his OPS is 68 points higher than his career average. And Francisco was 1-for-18 in his postseason career, 1-for-9 against Jamie Garcia and hadn’t homered since May 25.
But Francisco certainly remembered his last at-bat against Garcia on Sept.16 at Citizens Bank Park, when he crushed a sinker to the warning track in left field. He felt good stepping into the batter’s box against Garcia, and this time he had results to show for it.
Got some magic numbers for you:
- Clinch a postseason berth: 2.
- Clinch fifth consecutive National League East championship: 7.
- Clinch home-field advantage throughout postseason: 8.
Talk about a bad week for the Brewers. They no longer have the second-best record in the league (Arizona does), which means if the season ended today they would play the Phillies in the NLDS. The Phillies have won six consecutive games against the Braves and Brewers and took 2 of 3 from Arizona at home in August (and that one loss came when Roy Halladay blew the only ninth-inning lead of his career). Not sure anybody wants to play the Phillies right now.
Carlos Ruiz is one tough dude. When Buster Posey broke his ankle during a collision at the plate earlier this season, folks asked him if he thought the rules should be changed to protect the catcher. He said no. If you play the position you have to love everything about the position. And that includes getting your body crushed on a play at the plate.
It’s just one start, but it felt last night like the Phillies were getting the band back together:
The Four Aces.
Roy Oswalt dominated in a 5-0 victory over the Nationals. His fastball touched 94 mph in the early innings and it averaged 92.2 mph for the night. That’s quite an improvement, considering his fastball averaged 90.9 mph from the time he hit the DL for the first time this season in early May and landed on it a second time in late June.
“He’s back,” Cole Hamels said. “I think that’s pretty much it. He’s back. When he has the velocity you know it’s game time.”
“The way he threw the ball,” Jimmy Rollins said, “vintage Roy. He had that little fastball that he shoots from his chest and by the time the batter swings it’s shoulder height. I was excited, man. His velocity was super. I was looking up and he was hitting 93 still late in the game. I was like, ‘Wow. And he was letting it go.’ You could tell he was confident in his back and in his arm.”
“His fastball had more life,” Carlos Ruiz said. “You could see a lot of swings and misses. The ball was moving (up). That was him, you know? He hit 93, 94. It’s good. You can see he was healthy. That’s the best start. He likes to compete, but when you’re hurt it’s hard. You could see it. He’s quiet, but you could see it in his face and body language. Something was wrong. He didn’t feel OK. Now I know he’s healthy.” <p>
If Oswalt is feeling like himself again – he had 15 swings and misses, 10 of them on fastballs – that is good news for the rotation and this team’s chances in October. Think about it. While most playoff teams will be debating whether or not to pitch their ace on short rest, the Phillies could have four well-rested aces pitching on regular or extra rest.
It would be a nice problem to have.
The rain turned out to be one of the least interesting things that happened in last night’s 4-3 loss to the Cubs in 11 innings.
Ryan Madson blew his first save in 15 opportunities. Instant replay overturned one of Madson’s home runs, which kept the game tied. (If you’re a fan sitting in the front row don’t you have to say to yourself, “OK, I’m in the front row. If there’s a ball coming my way I should probably back out of the way because I don’t want to become Philly’s version of Steve Bartman?”) David Herndon hit with the bases loaded and two outs in the 10th. (He struck out.) Carlos Ruiz had a rare passed ball to allow the winning run to move to second base in the 11th. Herndon fired a ball into center field on a pickoff attempt, but Tyler Colvin did not advance to third on the play. Placido Polanco had a rare throwing error to allow the winning run to score with two outs.
All sorts of nutiness, but once again the offense came up short. The Phillies did not score after Jimmy Rollins hit a three-run homer in the second inning. They were hitless from the fifth through ninth innings.
Madson blew the save and Herndon took the loss, but the offense continued its struggles.
Nothing is official, but I think we know a few things from last night’s Class A Clearwater game:
- Expect Carlos Ruiz to be activated from the DL today.
- Chase Utley continues to move in a straight line. He homered last night. He’s getting closer. (Late next week, maybe?)
- Roy Oswalt didn’t have his fastball, which could indicate he is not ready to rejoin the rotation Tuesday in St. Louis, although we’ll hopefully learn more today. “He normally throws a lot of fastballs, normally 93,94 (mph), and today he said he doesn’t feel good, with the fastball, more like 89, 90,” Ruiz said. “The first couple of innings, fastball cut, not too much life in his fastball. In the last couple of innings, better, better location, he was throwing more breaking balls because he was thinking the fastball’s not there. When he is on, he’s not afraid to throw his fastball on any count, today it was a little different. It was a lot of fastball cut, the location was not there that’s why we threw more changeups, curveballs, sliders.” Of course, Oswalt could be perfectly healthy. He just could’ve been disinterested in letting loose in a Class A game. We’ll see.
Jimmy Rollins‘ two-run single in the top of the ninth inning last night gave the Phillies a 5-3 victory over Florida. It was the second time Rollins had a game-wining RBI against the Marlins in the ninth inning or later. The first came in Sept. 2004, when he hit a 10th-inning homer off Armando Benitez in Florida.
Brian Schneider strained his left hamstring last night. He said he can’t see himself playing by Friday, which probably means he is headed to the disabled list. If everything goes well for Carlos Ruiz tonight in Class A Clearwater, the Phillies could swap Schneider for Ruiz on the DL.
Ruiz is expected to be back this weekend in Atlanta. Utley could be back next week.
Entering tonight’s game against the Marlins, Phillies second basemen ranked last in the National League with a .557 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Phillies catchers ranked last with a .574 OPS. (Ruiz was hitless in 21 at-bats before he landed on the DL, but he hit .302 with a .400 on-base percentage last season.)
To put that in perspective, Houston Astros pitchers entered the night with a .593 OPS.
“We need our lineup to get better,” Charlie Manuel said.
The Phillies rank fifth or better in OPS at first base (fifth at .864), third base (second at .826), shortstop (fourth at .749) and center field (third at .837). Pitchers rank eighth (.358), rightfielders rank ninth (.744) and leftfielders rank 13th (.694).
The Phillies have had very little happening offensively once Ryan Howard hits, although Raul Ibanez is picking up. He is hitting .467 (14-for-30) with four doubles, two home runs and five RBIs in his last eight games.
“We don’t have the offense we used to have,” Manuel said. “We don’t have the depth in our offense right now. We get Utley back that’s definitely going to help us some. But we do not have the offense we had. I’ve told you about the guys with the high on-base percentages. We used to lead the league in base runners, but we also used to lead the league in runs scored.”
Manuel has heard in meetings and elsewhere that scoring is down everywhere.
“That don’t mean we have to have that damn problem,” Manuel said. “I say that in meetings all the time. That’s like saying if somebody jumps off a bridge you’re going to jump off with them. The hell with that. Really. That’s kind of how I look at that. I want us to be the best team in baseball. I want to put the best players on the field. I want the best hitting, the best pitching, the best defense.”
Roy Oswalt rejoined the Phillies today after spending more than a week with his family in Mississippi.
Tornadoes tore through his home county. His home and the home of his in-laws suffered some damage, but his family is OK. His three children were in their grandparents’ home when the storms hit, which shook them up.
I’ll have more later on the experience, but here’s the baseball stuff:
- Oswalt threw a bullpen session this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. He said it went well, although the Phillies said they have not decided if he will pitch Saturday. Rich Dubee said they must see how he feels tomorrow. Oswalt did not throw while he was home, and Dubee said Oswalt was a little rusty as a result.
- If I’m a betting man I’m betting Chase Utley is in Clearwater, Fla., before the end of the weekend. He responded well to two simulated games earlier this week. The Phillies have said they have not made any decisions about his next step, but an appearance in extended spring training is the logical choice. “I would assume it would be a slow progression,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. That means starting with extended spring training before beginning a rehab assignment.
- Carlos Ruiz took swings in the batting cage the past couple days, but is resting his back today. He suffered a bit of a setback. “He was progressing real well, then he kind of tweaked himself a little bit,” Amaro said. Ruiz has not played since April 27. The Phillies can back date his DL stint 10 days, so they have until Saturday to do that. “Not yet,” said Amaro, asked if he feels like they need to place Ruiz on the DL.
- Don’t expect Vance Worley to stick around once Joe Blanton rejoins the rotation. Amaro said Worley has more value keeping stretched out as a starter in Triple-A.
- Jose Contreras remains on schedule to return in three to four weeks. He’s been on the DL since April 22.
That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It just won’t happen today. But the DL already is crowded with Chase Utley, Brad Lidge, Jose Contreras, Joe Blanton, J.C. Romero, Domonic Brown and Brian Bocock.
The Phillies should be used to this. I pictured players checking their iPads or phones last night and shrugging their shoulders at the latest DL news, if they hadn’t heard already.
“Blanton’s on the DL? Damn. OK.”
The Phillies have travelled this road before:
- 2007: They used 46 players, including 28 pitchers (some of those players included Chris Roberson, Pete LaForest, Russell Branyan, Yoel Hernandez, Anderson Garcia, Kane Davis, John Ennis, Joe Bisenius, Zack Segovia and Matt Smith).
- 2008: They used 40 players, including 18 pitchers (Brad Harman, Andy Tracy, Chris Snelling, R.J. Swindle, Les Walrond and Andrew Carpenter).
- 2009: They used 41 players, including 22 pitchers (Rodrigo Lopez, Paul Hoover, Sergio Escalona and Steven Register).
- 2010: They used 42 players, including 21 pitchers (Cody Ransom, Dane Sardinha, Brian Bocock, Nate Robertson, Scott Mathieson and Nelson Figueroa).
The Phillies handled the injuries every time. Nobody can say they will handle them this year, but it explains why nobody in the clubhouse is panicked, either.