The Phillies, for one night at least, reminded everybody of the kind of stuff that used to happen around here on a semi-regular basis.
Down 3-2 entering the ninth, the Phils scored two runs in their last at bat to beat the Colorado Rockies 4-3. It was the Phillies’ third win in their last four games, and featured the continued the improved play of Carlos Ruiz, who is no doubt making a push to convince Ruben Amaro and Ryne Sandberg to keep him around for at least another year.
And hey, maybe for one night, it kept the Phillies players from eating each other alive.
Last night, Ruiz delivered a pinch-hit RBI double to tie the game in the ninth, then scored the winning run on Michael Young‘s game-winning RBI single. After being suspended for the first 25 games of the year, then suffering a hamstring injury that kept him out of action for a month, then going through a prolonged slump that saw him with an OPS under .600 as recently as August 1, Ruiz has been hot lately, hitting .304 since July 24 with an OPS over .800 in that 22-game span.
And although he didn’t start last night’s game, his late inning contribution is just yet another argument for the Phils to keep the 34-year-old catcher for at least one more season.
“I’ll keep working and hopefully finish strong,” Ruiz said. “We’ll see what happens when the season is over.”
Chooch was also asked if his contract situation, which ends at the end of this year, has been weighing on his mind.
“If I said no, I’d be lying to you,” Ruiz said. “It’s something I was thinking, maybe not every day, but once in a while. But who knows; it’s not in my hands. All that’s in my hands is to play hard and see what happens.
“Definitely with everything that happened, it was tough for me. I came back from the suspension, then I got hurt. It’s not an excuse, but it was hard to pick it up. There’s nothing I can do about that; it’s in the past, so I’m going to do my best right now, and hopefully I’ll do well.” – quotes per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki
So yes, Ruiz would like to be back. And given the internal options (Tommy Joseph has missed virtually the whole year with concussion issues, Sebastian Valle stinks, Erik Kratz and Cameron Rupp are back-ups), or lack thereof, the Phillies really have no choice but to re-sign Ruiz, unless they wanted to make a splash in free agency.
Hitting the market this fall are Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, John Buck, and Kelly Shoppach, just to name a few. And while McCann or Saltalamacchia would help the offense, both mainly hit from the left side of the plate (Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter, but his splits show he is virtually useless as a right-handed hitter) and may not be worth the cost of just keeping Ruiz for another year.
Frankly, if the Phillies can re-sign Ruiz to a cheap one-year deal, it may prove to be one of the best bargains in free agency this off-season, especially if his offense continues to pick up.
On the mound, Cliff Lee was just doing his thing on Wednesday night, bouncing back after a recent string of not-so-hot performances. Against Colorado, Lee went 7 innings and gave up 2 runs on 9 hits. Heading into last night, Lee had been 1-4 with a 5.17 ERA, giving up 9 HRs in 6 starts. Before that, he had given up just 8 HRs in 17 starts. And while he did give up another homer last night, to Wilin Rosario, he otherwise limited the damage.
Picking up the win was lefty Jake Diekman, who seems to be coming into his own a bit lately. Two nights ago, Diekman made headlines by striking out Nolan Arenado on a 99 mile per hour fastball. Last night, he pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his first win of the season. In his last five appearances, Dikeman has pitched 4 1/3 innings and given up no runs, with seven strikeouts and no walks. NO WALKS!!!
The Phillies got on the board first, thanks to a first-inning home run by Chase Utley, his first long ball in his last 17 games. Darin Ruf and John Mayberry each added two hits, and Michael Young‘s leadership-fueled game-winning single helped make the Phillies clubhouse just the tiniest bit happier.
At least for one day.