With the pitching staff snaring more than its share of the spotlight lately, let’s throw a little luminescence where it doesn’t usually fall: The bottom of the lineup.
The seven and eight holes of the Phillies lineup are usually known as in the park as “That time in the batting order where you leave to go to the bathroom or just sit there and roll your eye.” Whatever offensive stamina we’ve got going, you can safely bet that it will come to a close by the time Pedro Feliz and Carlos Ruiz are standing in the on deck circle with some pine in their hands.
Not so anymore.
It has been these two fellows’ contributions that were so important when everybody else decided to stop playing baseball. Feliz, I first believed, was a defensive upgrade of the highly capable Abraham Nunez, while maintaining a similarly stale level of offensive production. But the truth is, Pedro can light it up when he wants to. The guy’s batting .287, and he gets on base a third of the time he shows up at the plate.
Staggering for a guy so low in the lineup, and it speaks multitudes about what the top of the order is capable of if our bottom-feeders are soaring so very high.
And Chooch. Honestly, I didn’t even know we were calling him that.
Carlos Ruiz is a position that has been the Phillies’ Achilles Heel, probably since…Lieberthal? With Lou Marson living it up in those brand new Cleveland minor league affiliate digs, and Paul Bako waiting in the wings (No, I don’t make it a point to shit on Bako in every post, it just happens) we’re looking for a guy to squat behind the plate and do more than shrug at the pitcher.
Ruiz’s offense came more alive than I’ve ever seen it this year, and that’s coming from a guy who used consider his spot in the lineup the equivalent of “empty” (Which is now the knee-jerk reaction to seeing Paul Bako in the lineup. SEE?!). It is unbelievably gratifying to see Carlos stroke a double and then hoof it out like a freight train. The last thing I’d want to see as an opposing second baseman after catching the relay throw is that wide-faced beast using every ounce of his speed to come at me like a pissed gorilla.
Have I mentioned that I think a catcher throwing down to first is the baseball equivalent of beating a man senseless with his own fist? Because when you catch a guy while throwing down the first, it’s the equivalent of breaking his arm off, and wailing on him with it as his family looks on in horror.
I love that our catcher is a guy who’s capable of that.
Way to go, bottom of the Phils’ lineup. I’m impressed.