Chooooooch. All Star? He’s getting there. Clutch hitter? He’s already there.
Carlos Ruiz was 4-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored, and a game winning RBI in the ninth inning as the Phils opened their road trip with a 9-5 win over the Rockies. Ross Gload provided the cushion in the 9th with his first homer as a Phillie, a pinch-hit three-run smash that just barely cleared the wall in right-center.
Right now, Ruiz is as locked-in as it gets. After spraying the ball to left and center fields all evening, Chooch’s OBP is up to a freakish .481. His batting average has reached a once unthinkable .354. Thought those numbers were reserved for Joe Mauer? Think again, because Ruiz is providing the Phils with a bottom of the order threat that was once a black hole. His keen eye and plate discipline have made him a formidable hitter since moving to that seven spot in the order.
Shane Victorino couldn’t be stopped either. He finished the night 2-for-3 with two triples, three walks and three runs. Jayson Werth reached base three times, twice VIA the free pass. He also doubled – his new favorite pastime -for the 17th time this year. Want a fun projection? How about 86 two-baggers for Werth. The legend continues to grow for the right fielder.
Although it ended with a no-decision, Kyle Kendrick gave an effort worthy of a fifth starter. His stuff was not at it’s best, as it had been against St. Louis last week, yet it was enough to allow the Phillies a chance at a victory. In that outing against the Cardinals, he induced 12 groundball outs, meaning his sinker was on.
Tonight, Kendrick allowed four runs over six innings and although 11 of his outs were recorded on the ground, he too often left his pitches up and over the plate. All in all, it was a respectable outing following a masterful performance a start ago. It’s silly to expect seven innings and no runs from a guy like KK as a regular occurrence, so this is still a game to be proud of.
After Kendrick, the bullpen was again very good. J.C. Romero allowed the Rockies to tie it at five in the 7th, but beyond his hiccup, Herndon, Baez, and Contreras were able to lock it down in the late stages. One head-scratcher, however, was the decision to use Contreras for a third straight game with a four-run lead in an early-season game. Although he’s been amazing, three in a row seems like overkill.
Other than a small complaint with the use of the bullpen, it’s hard to find much wrong doing. Kendrick was adequate, and kept his team in it. Ruiz was spectacular with the bat. Victorino looked like a leadoff hitter. And the Phillies kept their hot streak rolling.