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
Yesterday we pondered the question, will April Showers produce May Flowers for the Phillies? Well, with Roy Halladay on the mound they will. Now all they need to do is tip-toe through the tulips and meander their way back to first place.
Because as of last night, if you peered at the NL East standings, you may have thought you were looking through a mirror. Those 5 teams are experiencing a bit of a role reversal from what most people predicted. Here was the order from first place to last: Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Marlins, Braves. The Mets and Nats should be in the last 2 spots, right? The Phillies seriously need to return order to the division.
The Phillies took one small step in that direction today with a complete game shut-out from Halladay in their 10-0 win over the Mets to even the series at a game apiece. They are currently tied for 2nd with the Nats. As usual, Halladay was unbelievable; he allowed only 3 hits, a walk and hit one batter, throwing 118 pitches. This man is a pitching machine. The rest of the Phillies pitching staff had better be taking notes.
Behind the amazing performance of Halladay, the Phillies bats finally woke up. The only player who did not have a hit in the game was Placido Polanco. Even Halladay knocked a single. Chase Utley went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles and Shane Victorino hit a 3-run homer in the 4th. Victorino was criticized last night after not hustling on a dropped third strike; he made up for the lack of effort today.
Mets pitcher Mike Pelfry came into this game with a record of 4-0 and a miniscule 0.69 ERA. He left with his first loss of the year and a very human 2.40 ERA. The Phils offense exploited the Mets bullpen as well, scoring 3 more runs off reliever Raul Valdez. This energy will need to carry over into tomorrow night if the Phillies are going to win the series.
As for the huge pile of Phillies injuries, JA Happ, suffering from his second forearm strain in three years, had what the Phils are calling a “minor setback” in his rehab. Translate that anyway you like, but it is still not good news.
The bad news is magnified of course by the performance of Kyle Kendrick so far this year. With a 7.61 ERA and no wins to his credit on the year, Kendrick is pitching like a minor leaguer and frankly, that is where he needs to go. Once Joe Blanton returns, which could be as soon as Monday, Kendrick may get the boot. Nelson Figueroa has the experience to fill in until Happ returns and Kendrick has done nothing to warrant keeping him in the rotation.
But first things first; tomorrow Jamie Moyer will take the mound opposite the Mets ace, Johan Santana. On paper, this looks like a slaughter for the Phillies. Moyer has allowed at least 4 runs in 3 out of his last 4 starts. But Santana is not untouchable either and the Phillies have hit him in the past. This should be an interesting one. Game time is 8:05pm for the national ESPN broadcast. I will be there and should be posting photos sometime Monday afternoon. Go Phillies!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography