Holy Crap, Guys… Did You See What Darin Ruf Did? Phils Beat Nats 6-3
By John Stolnis
Darin Ruf has what you could call a “wide body.” Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Seriously though, did you see what Darin Ruf did last night?
The 26-year-old first baseman/outfielder non-prospect who was too old for AA baseball, got his first career start for the Phillies on Tuesday night. Playing left field and batting seventh, Ruf hit a solo home run in his first at bat, and later added a single, in the Phils’ 6-3 win over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.
And while there’s not much Ruf can do over the remaining eight games to guarantee himself a starting spot in left field for next year, Charlie Manuel should be penciling his name into the lineup every night for the rest of the season.
Spring Training in Clearwater will be Ruf’s big chance. But he could certainly give himself a leg up if he has a few more games like he had last night.
“I like him. I like his swing,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “I like the way he uses the whole field.”
Yeah, and Charlie also likes the fact the guy hit a Reading Phillies record 38 home runs this season (breaking a mark set by Ryan Howard), while batting .317 and knocking in 104 runs. For the first time in a while, the Phils seem to have a player that offers a real possibility of some sorely needed homegrown power.
And with the Nats starting another left-handed pitcher on Wednesday night, Manuel said Ruf would be in the starting lineup once again.
Let the villagers rejoice.
Of course, we probably shouldn’t get too worked about about Darin Ruf. After all, he was a non-prospect coming into the season, even though all he’d done in his minor league career up to the start of this year was hit the baseball all over the place.
That’s not really a skill anyone thinks is all that important in baseball anymore, right?
It seems nowadays that prospects can only be players who are less than 23 years old and possess a certain body type. A body type other than, well, Ruf’s body type.
You see, Darin is not an Adonis. He’s more like a pudgy Pat Burrell.
Ruf also played four years at Creighton and was a bit old for each of the minor league levels at which he was playing. And he’s also not exactly a “five-tools” guy. Ruf doesn’t have much foot speed (I think his official 40-yard dash time is around two minutes and 25 seconds or something) and he has admitted he still needs a lot of work defensively in the outfield (especially his arm, which makes Juan Pierre’s hose look like a cannon). He’ll get that work this winter in Venezuela.
But what the Phillies really need is an offensive player. A guy who can slug the ball, get on base, and power an offense.
And while one night certainly isn’t enough to determine whether Darin Ruf can be that guy at the Major League level, he certainly didn’t do anything to lower expectations on Tuesday night.
“It’s always been a goal to play at this level,” Ruf said after the game. “But I never imagined it being close to as awesome as this feels.”
Where It All Went Right
Even though Ruf was the story of the game, his solo homer only tied the score at 1-1 in the second inning. The Phils got a big three-run home run from Carlos Ruiz who, even after spending the better part of a month on the disabled list, has picked up right where he left off. Chooch is hitting .327/.395/.547 with 16 HRs and 65 RBIs in just 395 at bats. He makes me feel good.
Also, Domonic Brown continued to show improvement at the plate, hitting a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth that gave the Phils their final run of the game. It was a monstrous shot by Brown and it seems as if Dom is really starting to get comfortable at the plate. He jumped all over a first-ball fastball on the inside corner, turning quickly on the pitch and jerking it into the right field seats. Brown’s patience at the plate has been well documented, but it’s also encouraging to see him be aggressive early in the count occasionally. Brown has now hit four home runs in his last 14 games.
Most Attractive Play
Because it happens so rarely, this pick by Ryan Howard of a wicked ground ball to his left was a thing of beauty. Howard had to go to his backhand on the short hop to make the play, and looked very Andres Galarraga-ish in doing so. And yes, I’ve been trying to find a way to insert Andres Galarraga into a Phillies post for about six months now.
Darin “Babe” Ruf, whose home run provided some real excitement for a fanbase watching a team that really has nothing left to play for this season. It’s interesting to note that Ruf’s teammates honored that old baseball tradition of ignoring a rookie after he hits his first home run. Of course, most of the time, his teammates usually only let the ruse last for a few seconds before mobbing him with congratulations. Not so last night. The entire team ignored him when he returned to the dugout for a full five minutes until the end of the inning, at which point he was smothered by his teammates. No word yet on whether Ruf is going to have to wear a My Little Pony backpack for the rest of the year. Ah, baseball traditions.
Bryce Harper, who hit an RBI single and gets on every non-Nationals fan’s last nerve. Why? I’m not sure. But I’ve been told I’m supposed to hate him, so I do. No one can say I’m not a good Phillies fan now!