Phillies C Carlos Ruiz. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
It took a month of baseball for Charlie Manuel to finally hit his best hitter higher than seventh in the line up.
Carlos Ruiz, who has been on an absolute tear to start the season, will hit fifth in today’s line up, protecting Hunter Pence.
The last time Ruiz hit fifth in the line up was in 2008 as a pinch-hitter. This is the first time in his career he’s starting in the five spot.
This season, Ruiz is hitting a team best .338 and his leading with 18 RBIs and tied with Shane Victorino for the most home runs with five.
Ruiz has been even hotter in his last 10 games. He’s hitting .405 with four home runs and 15 RBIs, all from the seven spot in the line up.
Ruiz had a Phillies record-setting night in Wednesday’s crazy 15-13 loss in extra innings to the Braves. Ruiz hit a three-run homer and three-run double in back-to-back innings and became the first Phillies catcher to drive in seven runs total. It also shattered a career-high five RBIs he has in a game in 2011.
The Phillies are going to now see what hitting fifth will do for Victorino and Pence, who are hitting .245 and .260 respectively. With a hitter as hot as Ruiz higher up in the line up, it could enable Pence to see better pitches, rather than the high fastballs he’s fallen victim to early in this season.
Today’s pitchers: This will be the first time the Phillies face Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez. Acquired in a trade with the Oakland A’s in the offseason, Gonzalez has faced only two of the hitters in today’s line up: Placido Polanco and Ty Wigginton.
In eight at-bats against Gonzalez, Polanco has three hits, including a home run. Wigginton has failed to record a hit off Gonzalez but has been walked three times in six plate appearances.
Vance Worley will take the mound for the Phillies. In two starts against the Nationals last year, Worley allowed five earned runs in 12 innings, earning a win in one and a loss in the other. His only other appearance against Washington came in relief in 2010 in which he was the winning pitcher of credit.
Today’s line up