If someone had told me that by the end of June this season, Carlos Ruiz would be leading all of baseball in batting average, I may have checked to see if that person was running a fever. Chooch has always been a good player; but he has never been .361 with 10 home runs-good. The 10 homers, including one in last night’s 5-4 win over the Pirates, is a career high. And it is only June…
So yes, Chooch leads everyone in batting average with .361. That is better than past MVP’s Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton. Ruiz has also outhit fellow catchers and All-Star voting leaders Yadier Molina and Brian McCann. Soooooo….VOTE FOR CHOOCH! We have until Thursday to get him to the All-Star game!
But even if that fails, manager Charlie Manuel told reporters yesterday that he plans on calling Tony La Russa, the NL All-Star team manager, to plead the case for Chooch. Manuel always sticks up for his players, but especially in this case, Ruiz really deserves the honor.
Chooch put his stamp all over last night’s win. He went 3-for-4 with a homer and 2 RBI. And while catching, Ruiz saved two runs from scoring by blocking the plate and tagging out the runners.
The biggest of those plays came in the 7th inning after starter Vance Worley got into a real jam. With no outs, 2 runners on base and 1 run already across, Worley was removed and rookie Michael Schwimer took over. Schwimer coaxed a ground out and then a short fly ball to left. One the fly ball, John Mayberry Jr. made a great throw home, which Ruiz caught and tagged the runner for an inning-ending double play.
That play kept the Phillies lead intact and Chooch’s subsequent homer added to that lead. The home run he hit in the 8th turned out to be a game saver as closer Jonathan Papelbon struggled in the 9th, allowing a solo homer. But the Ruiz blast made the difference in the 5-4 win.
The Phillies have now won 2 of the first 4 games against the Pirates, which is great news; because tonight’s 7:05pm game is going to be started and finished by the Phillies bullpen. The rainout on Friday forced a juggling of the pitching staff, leaving them 1 starter short this week. So Raul Valdes will start the game and likely pitch 3 innings, passing the ball on to the rest of the pen after that.
And while you are watching the game, do not forget to VOTE FOR CHOOCH!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography