10 years ago today: Carlos Ruiz played long ball and small ball to give Phillies a World Series lead

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10 years ago today: Carlos Ruiz played long ball and small ball to give Phillies a World Series lead

Ten years ago this month, the Phillies won their second World Series title in franchise history. Over the next few weeks, Jim Salisbury will look back at the team’s run through the NLCS and World Series.

Mother Nature didn’t exactly roll out the welcome mat as the 2008 World Series shifted from domed Tropicana Field to Citizens Bank Park. Surely, you remember how rain impacted the decisive Game 5. But it also had an effect on Game 3.

A cold rain fell in Philadelphia throughout the early evening, but baseball officials were confident it would stop at some point and the game would be played. So fans waited and waited. They huddled under the concourse and watched the Penn State-Ohio State football game on TV.

At about 9:20, with rain still falling, there was a sign that there would be baseball soon: A Phillies batboy emerged from the clubhouse and brought a carafe of coffee out to the bullpen. Fifteen minutes later, starting pitcher Jamie Moyer popped out of the dugout and made his way to the bullpen. I can still see the television close-up of his feet splashing through standing water in the outfield as he made the walk.

Ninety minutes after the scheduled start time, the rain stopped and Moyer delivered the first pitch to catcher Carlos Ruiz. Moyer joined the Phillies late in 2006 and forged a bond with the young catcher. In fact, in later years, Ruiz credited Moyer for helping him hone his game-calling skills.

On this night, in Game 3 of the World Series, Ruiz seemed to be in the center of it all. He belted a solo homer in the second inning to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead but made an error in the eighth inning that set up the tying run.

Ruiz got his shot to atone in the bottom of the ninth. Eric Bruntlett was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and moved to third on a wild pitch and an error. Rays manager Joe Maddon ordered a couple of intentional walks to load the bases. Up came Ruiz. He played long ball earlier in the game. This time, with the game on the line and a cold, wet crowd of 45,900 on its feet, he played small ball. Facing hard-throwing Grant Balfour, Ruiz stroked a slow chopper toward third base. Bruntlett broke on contract and slid home safely with the winning run as Ruiz reached base on an infield hit that traveled about 65 feet. The 5-4 victory gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the series.

Amazingly, Ruiz’s hit was the Phillies’ only one in five chances with a runner in scoring position. That left them at a feeble 2 for 33 with runners in scoring position for the series, but they still managed to have the lead.

Moyer did not get the win in Game 3, but he kept his club afloat with 6⅓ innings of three-run ball. The whole night was a dream come true for the 45-year-old pitcher who had grown up in the Philadelphia suburbs and skipped school to attend the parade after the team won the World Series in 1980. Moyer had often told his younger teammates what it was like to be at that parade and what it would feel like to have their own. With his help, they were just two wins away from finding out.

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Previously in this series

Phillies and Nationals postponed for second straight night

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Phillies and Nationals postponed for second straight night

Here we go again.

After a rain delay of about two hours, the Phillies and Nationals have been rained out for a second straight night. Tonight’s game will be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Sept. 24.

After nearly three hours of waiting on Monday, the series opener was postponed and scheduled to be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Wednesday (1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.), but Tuesday’s postponement will cause even more issues for both teams.

Different from Monday, there was steady rain falling throughout the night and, perhaps, with a day game on Wednesday, it got too late to give this one a go. The Phillies have announced that Zach Eflin will start game one and Jake Arrieta will start game two. It appears Patrick Corbin will try again for Washington, however the Nationals may be searching for a second starter after a freak accident during batting practice resulted in a broken nose for their ace, Max Scherzer, whose status is TBD. (see video)

While a doubleheader is difficult from a pitching standpoint, the Phillies will welcome two extra days for J.T. Realmuto and Jay Bruce to mend. Not in the posted lineup for either of the games that were postponed due to rain, Gabe Kapler did indicate that Realmuto would start one game on Wednesday and Bruce was available to pinch hit on Tuesday if needed.

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Phillies need a 5th and 6th starter this weekend; who could it be?

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Phillies need a 5th and 6th starter this weekend; who could it be?

Updated: 9:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consecutive rainouts Monday and Tuesday benefited the Phillies by giving J.T. Realmuto and Jay Bruce two additional days to recover from their injuries. Had the Phils played Tuesday night, both players would have been available to pinch-hit but would have likely needed pinch-runners. Realmuto will start one game of the Phillies’ day-night doubleheader Wednesday. 

Where it negatively affected the Phillies is in the starting rotation. The Phils don’t have a true No. 5 starter right now. Gabe Kapler said Monday that there is a belief within the organization that Vince Velasquez can fill that role, but it’s not a certainty that he’s returned to the rotation. If Velasquez is needed out of the bullpen Thursday or Friday, for example, he may not get the start Saturday. It’s TBD. 

And now, because the Phillies play twice on Wednesday, they’ll also need a starter for Sunday’s game. In effect, a team with no fifth starter needs a fifth and sixth starter this weekend. 

On Wednesday, it will be Zach Eflin in Game 1 and Jake Arrieta in Game 2. 

Nick Pivetta pitches Thursday. 

Aaron Nola pitches Friday. 

Then possibly Velasquez Saturday. 

On Sunday, the Phils will have to figure out something else because it would be short rest for both Arrieta and Eflin. 

Who are the options? Kapler said Tuesday that hot pitching prospect Adonis Medina, despite being on the 40-man roster, is not under consideration for a start this weekend. 

The organization likely does not feel he’s ready yet and doesn’t want to rush a young pitcher with promise just because it needs a spot starter this weekend. Plus, Medina is a trade chip, and you don’t want to do anything to ding his value by bringing him up before the time feels right. 

So there’s Velasquez, there’s Cole Irvin, there’s Enyel De Los Santos. Those are the three most realistic options. Irvin is still on the active roster and was ticketed for the ‘pen before Mother Nature intervened. 

De Los Santos made a six-inning start for Triple A Lehigh Valley on Sunday, so he’d be on turn this weekend. The Phillies don’t seem to love him as a starting pitcher, though. They haven’t turned to him when the need has arisen this season and when he has been promoted it has been as a reliever. More of a two-pitch pitcher, De Los Santos could ultimately find more success as a reliever. 

Drew Anderson, who started Tuesday for the IronPigs, is another swingman on the 40. There’s also Ranger Suarez. 

If the Phillies want to promote someone who’s not on the 40-man roster, 23-year-old Dominican right-hander Ramon Rosso is another option. He has pitched well in 11 starts this season, including a Triple A debut June 13 in which he struck out nine and did not allow an earned run over six innings.

The other options are using an opener or making a trade. It seems unlikely the Phillies will be able to complete a deal for an attractive starting pitcher by the weekend, but one name to keep in the back of your mind is Mike Leake. He’s a No. 4 starter who has alternated quick and efficient quality starts and clunkers throughout his career. He’s on a Mariners team committed to tearing things down and eager to trade high-priced veterans for seemingly whatever they can get, whether it’s salary relief or an interesting young player. Leake is owed $15 million next season and has a $5 million buyout in 2021, way too much for a pitcher his caliber. The Phillies are not going to want to commit $20 million to him just because he’s the most obtainable starting pitcher on the market this minute. But if the Mariners pick up a bulk of his remaining money a la Bruce, he could and should be considered as a rotation stabilizer, not as the missing piece. 

Fortunately for the Phillies, they face the lowly Marlins this weekend. If there is a team to lack starting pitching against, it is them. 

But again, it highlights the lack of quality options the Phillies have after their first four starting pitchers, who collectively have been just OK. The choice to not sign a veteran starter this offseason has predictably backfired. The team enters Wednesday 39-32, which is still an 89-win pace, but the more important point is that the Braves are surging and the Nationals have won 14 of 21 with a roster every bit as talented as the Phils’. 

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