Darin Ruf has been around for quite a little while now.
He's no kid, 28 years old, playing a portion of his fourth season with the Phillies. He's never been good enough to claim a spot as an everyday outfielder, and with Ryan Howard blocking him at first, has never been able to maintain consistent playing time with the Phils.
He's been back and forth from the minors to the Majors and battled injuries. None of it has come easy for the big right-hander.
Which is why it was nice to see Ruf deliver the knock-out blow, a one-out, game-winning, walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Phils a come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds at rainy Citizens Bank Park.
Darin Ruf (PHI): 1st career walk-off hit— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 3, 2015
Ruf's knock to right field ended a horrific seven-game losing streak for the Phils, and improved their record to 20-33 on the season. It also was a rare late-inning victory for the Phillies, improving to 2-31 on the season when trailing after seven innings.
Things were looking bleak for a while there, as Cincinnati built a 4-1 lead against Sean O'Sullivan, who gave up all four runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 mediocre innings of work, raising his ERA on the season to 5.03. But the bullpen held the day, with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless pitching from Justin De Fratus, Jake Diekman, Luis Garcia and an impressive Jonathan Papelbon, who got the win.
That excellent work by the 'pen allowed the Phils to chip away with some rarely-seen power. In the 6th, Chase Utley took a Johnny Cueto pitch out to right-center field to draw the Phils to within two runs. Then, with a runner on second in the 8th, third baseman Maikel Franco did this.
FRANC-OH! Tie ballgame. pic.twitter.com/eMTZEzHaXA— Ryan G (@rgilbert526) June 3, 2015
Franco's homer was estimated at 418 feet— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) June 3, 2015
It was Franco's third home run this season and tied the game up at four. Franco has struggled at the plate after an early hot start, hitting just .212/.257/.409 with a wRC+ of 81, but is also sporting a BABIP of .196 in the early going and is striking out in just 12.9% of his plate appearances so far, albeit in a small sample size of only 70 plate appearances.
Franco's blast led to the team's 9th inning heroics, with Odubel Herrera smacking a lead-off, opposite field double down the left field line. Carlos Ruiz sacrificed him to third, leaving first base open with left-handed reliever Tony Cingrani to face the right-handed hitting Ruf.
Reds fans will no doubt question why manager Bryan Price didn't walk the right-handed hitting Ruf in order to face the left-handed hitting Revere, setting up a potential double play. Trust us, Reds fans, we've down the same road with our skipper.
But good for Ruf. He came through in a big spot and helped the Phillies avoid an eight game losing streak. The burning sting of shaving cream in the ocular sockets never felt so good.