Ruiz had feeling Doc would be dominant
Phillies catcher on receiving end of righty's two no-hitters
PHILADELPHIA -- It comes as no surprise that Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz had a good feeling prior to the Phillies' 4-0 victory over the Reds in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday. After all, ace Roy Halladay was slated to take the mound.
But Ruiz, you see, had some inside information.
"In the bullpen, it was like 'Wow!'" Ruiz said. "I said, 'Guys, we need to score some runs today. If we score a run, we have a good chance to win.' When he is on, you have a good chance to win. ... Everything was working in the bullpen."
As it turned out, Halladay took that great bullpen session out to the mound and threw the second no-hitter in postseason history, joining the Yankees' Don Larsen in the annals of baseball history. The only blemish came in the fifth inning, when Jay Bruce walked on a 3-2 pitch. Ruiz said home-plate umpire John Hirshbeck made the right call on ball four.
"The last pitch was definitely a ball," Ruiz said. "Just before that pitch, [Halladay] threw a good one, but that's what happens. He could have been perfect all game."
Halladay was so good that by the sixth, Ruiz knew the right-hander had history in his sights.
"I was like, 'OK, he has a chance to throw a no-hitter,'" Ruiz said.
Halladay was so good that the toughest play may have been the last out of the game. Brandon Phillips hit a squibbler in front of Ruiz and as Phillips was running down the first-base line, the ball hit the bat. Ruiz dropped to his knees to field the ball and fired a strike to first baseman Ryan Howard.
Adding to the challenge, Phillips strayed out of the baseline and on to the infield grass as he ran to first, so Ruiz had to make a throw that would miss the runner while still arriving in time. Phillips could have been called out, under the umpire's discretion, if he was ruled to have interfered with the play.
"It was real difficult because right there -- with the no-hitter -- it was 'Oh, my God.' I feel bad [if I don't make the play]. I made a good throw and it was big," Ruiz said.
Halladay was so good that it wasn't until the second-to-last pitch that he shook off Ruiz. With the count 0-1, Ruiz wanted Halladay to throw a fastball to Phillips. Halladay wanted to throw the cutter. Ruiz didn't argue. He put his finger down for the cutter and Halladay threw it for strike two.
"We worked real good," Ruiz said. "We were on the same page all game. It was a good combination.
Halladay was so good that Ruiz was tempted to compare it to his perfect game, which Ruiz also caught, against the Marlins on May 29.
"I think both are the same." Ruiz said. "Except for the walk today, he was something. Both are special for me. He was the same guy I remember in the perfect game."
When watching Halladay and Ruiz work together, it seems like they were teammates for years. They often know what other wants to do with a hitter.
Halladay was so good that, well, it's easy to overlook the fact that it takes two to tango -- and craft no-hitters.
"He takes the stuff that a pitcher has on a given night and uses it to the best that he can," Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin said of Ruiz. "He has been fantastic. He has developed into a solid No. 1 catcher. He does everything well defensively. Calling a game is probably the most important aspect that he does so well. Day after day he knows, what pitches a guy will be successful with."
While Ruiz was happy catching the no-hitter, he would like to help Halladay get something even more important: His first World Series ring.
"We need to give something to him," Ruiz said, "that's go to the World Series. That's what I want. That's what he wants. It's special for him and special for us. We have to keep going."