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Choochify My Grudge Match: Phillies 4, Nationals 1

From Panama's steamy, banana republican heart, I spike at thee. (Photo by Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)
From Panama's steamy, banana republican heart, I spike at thee. (Photo by Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)
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There is something about Carlos Ruiz that will never be translateable, always just a bit hidden and inaccessible. He may not have complete mastery of the English language, for instance, yet there's a depth to the man that makes you suspect it's all a facade. And when he's angry, and his blood is up, the man channels it into equatorially hot baseball.

In a game that was billed as zOMG Bryce Harper vs. Cole Hamels 2 WHAAT?, Carlos Ruiz, batting cleanup for the first time since it's become painfully obvious he's desperately needed there, went 3 for 4 with a run scored and a double, snuffed out a run at the plate on a masterful outfield assist from Hunter Pence in the sixth (after Bryce Harper - BOO! - singled with Danny Espinosa at second base), took a foul tip off his right thumb/wrist in the eighth inning and stayed in the game, the tough sunufabitch. (After the game, Charlie Manuel said that Ruiz was being x-rayed to look at his right thumb and wrist.) It was a grand, public spectacle of a man playing the part of an upraised middle finger, psychically directed at some combination of umpire Gary Cederstrom and that part of his own clubhouse which insists on being deeply, profoundly, and unentertainingly mediocre.

Cole Hamels was his usual, fabulous self, pitching another great game to his seventh win of the season and prompting fanboys everwhere to surround their "Mrs. Cole Hamels" signatures with extra hearts and unicorns, especially now that he's gone with an ultra dreamy, shorter haircut. I mean! Hamels pitched eight innings, surrendering three walks and four hits, and striking out eight to drive his ERA down to 2.17 (2.09 FIP) and his Pay the Man! record to 7-1. The Phillies, meanwhile, were able to salvage one game from the division-leading Nationals, bubble up once again to one game away from the .500 mark, but stay only 4.5 games back in the clumpily talented N.L. East.

Honorable mentions need to be spread around:

  • Shane Victorino was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and hit a home run in the 8th to give the Phillies a 4-0 advantage. Mitigation: Bunted (his call? Manuel's?) in the sixth after Ruiz had doubled, prompting yet another "runner on third with fewer than two outs debacle," as Ty Wigginton and Freddy Galvis promptly swung away at the next five pitches (four out of the zone, and the one in the zone was a checked swing) to strand Ruiz. Eeeh.
  • Small ball zaniness in the 7th inning, as Mike Fontenot doubled, Hamels sacrificed him to third, and Juan "The Happeninger" Pierre executed on the suicide squeeze for the small 3-0 lead, right at the point where the game felt for all the world like the Nationals would stir up something to tie the game and ultimately win it the fourteenth inning and sour the Sixers' mojo.
  • Galvis made a tremendous play in short left field in the 8th inning on a Steve Lombardozzi pop fly that followed a Jesus Flores triple* (*Hunter Pence aided), the key play that kept the Phillies' lead at 3-0.
  • Hunter Pence: two walks! An outfield assist! Mitigation: caught stealing. Doesn't go to the corner with anything resembling will or grace. Perhaps it's best we simply imagine him as an alternate-universe Dom Brown.

Meet me in St. Louis tomorrow. No room to fool around against the Cardinals. But meanwhile: Winning! You know, better than losing, maaaan.

Fangraph after the jump: