Good catching always seems like an afterthought. Normally, when a pitcher throws a great game, praise automatically is shoveled to the pitcher. Maybe the coaches get some. Heck, the opposing team gets some praise for stinking, too. But the catcher?
Well, Carlos Ruiz gets my praise. If you noticed, he caught last night while Brett Myers’ preferred catcher, Chris Coste, sat on the bench. And while you can’t exactly say “well Carlos should be praised for the way Brett pitched,” he’s been the guy behind the platem during this series, as Phillies pitching has given up just three runs on seven hits. And the Phils have won 15 of his last 17 starts behind the plate. And in only three of those 17 outings did the pitchers he caught surrender more than four runs.
“He’s been catching good,” said Charlie Manuel to Todd Zolecki. Damn straight.
We know Phillies pitchers, such as Brad Lidge, have said they feel comfortable with Ruiz at backstop. He can handle the dirty stuff — aka Lidge’s slider — making him an attractive target for any pitch. He can also keep a pitcher’s composure — after Myers loaded the bases and let in a run in last night’s first inning, Ruiz came out with pitching coach Rich Dubee to speak with Myers. A pitch later: ground out double play.
Sure, we can’t say with confidence that Ruiz is the main reason for the great pitching. No, it does start with great pitching. But lately, when Ruiz is behind the plate, there has been no reason to worry at all about what’s happening on that end of the battery. That Ruiz can sometimes get a hit — such as the one to start the big second inning last night — is just gravy on a very solid September.