Phils' problems mount, Ruiz injured in loss
TORONTO – In a season where the obstacles seem to get bigger and thornier with each passing week, one has to wonder if this might be the one that breaks the 2012 Phillies.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz, leading the team in hitting at .362 and a strong candidate to make the All-Star team for the first time, left Friday night’s 3-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays with a strained left oblique muscle. He suffered the injury swinging at a pitch in the sixth inning (see Instant Replay)
Ruiz was receiving treatment and not available for comment after the game. He will be re-evaluated Saturday. It is not known whether he will require time on the disabled list, but oblique strains – referred to ribcage strains in the old days – often require time on the DL so they don’t linger. The Phillies have summoned Erik Kratz to Toronto as a standby in case Ruiz needs to go on the DL. At the very least, manager Charlie Manuel said he expects Ruiz to miss several days.
“That’s a big one,” Manuel said. “He’s our .360 hitter, the guy that’s been hot, the guy that’s been consistent. He won’t play for a few days, that’s for sure. We’ll know more tomorrow.”
Vance Worley, the losing pitcher despite giving up just one earned run in seven innings Friday night, was succinct when asked what the impact of losing Ruiz would be.
“It would be terrible,” Worley said. “He’s been our most consistent guy and done a good job behind the dish.”
There would be no good time to lose Ruiz, but to do so at this point in the season would be devastating. The Phils are nine games back in the NL East and trying to tread water until Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay -- a veritable all-star team right there – get back from the disabled list in the coming weeks. It’s crucial that the Phils don’t lose more ground in the next few weeks or management may decide that a playoff run is not in the cards and start trading off pieces.
In addition to Utley, Howard and Halladay, the Phils have seen relievers Mike Stutes and Jose Contreras go down this season. Cliff Lee, Jim Thome and Laynce Nix have spent time on the DL, as well.
Now maybe Ruiz.
Manuel was asked if he ever wanted to scream in frustration.
“Yeah, I want to,” he said. “I might want to do more than that. The way things are going for us, you’ve got to stay in there, but I still don’t have to like it.”
Manuel added, “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us.”
That’s definitely true, not after five straight NL East titles.
Ruiz’ injury was a dark moment in a dark night for the Phils. Their offense was lousy and their defense poor.
On a night when the Jays had to use their bullpen for 8 1/3 innings after starter Drew Hutchison left with a sore elbow in the first inning, the Phils had just five hits, were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.
Worley held the Jays to five hits over seven innings, but a couple of those hits were damaging. He allowed back-to-back doubles and a run in the third and failed to put away Jose Bautista after being ahead 0-and-2 in the fourth. Bautista might have been erased at second on a ground ball to third – and it might have been a double play – hadn’t third baseman Mike Fontenot made an errant throw to second. A run scored on the play and the batter, Edwin Encarnacion ended up on third and eventually scored.
“I just threw it away,” said Fontenot, who started in place of resting Placido Polanco who will return to the starting lineup Saturday afternoon.
The Phils, four games under .500 at 31-35, have made 13 errors in the last nine games.
“We didn’t have a very good game,” Manuel said. “We pitched good, but we didn’t hit.”
And the defense was shaky.
And on top of it all, the indispensable man behind the plate might be headed to the disabled list. Will it be the injury that breaks this team’s back? We’ll soon find out.E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org