Big League Stew - MLB

There were a couple doubting moments for the Phillies defense on Wednesday.

Joey Votto(notes) hit a grounder to deep short in the fourth inning that Jimmy Rollins(notes) successfully gobbled up.

And pitcher Travis Wood(notes) hit a sinking liner that was caught by right fielder Jayson Werth(notes) an inning before.

Apart from that pair of plays, though, the tough fielding challenges in Roy Halladay's(notes) Game 1 no-hitter were few and far between. Doc's pitching was so dominant that good contact was as rare as a playoff no-no and a weak infield dribbler seemed like the only real shot the Cincinnati Reds had of putting someone on.

So when Brandon Phillips(notes) chopped a pitch in front of the plate with two outs in the ninth, it was only natural to tense up at home and say that the ride was fun (funner?) while it lasted. 

It was, after all, a difficult play. Phillips isn't a plodding runner, the angle for the throw was a difficult one and the bat landed in a spot that wasn't far from the ball. After the game, manager Charlie Manuel joked that he'd have picked up both and tried to throw them.

But while it wasn't your everyday type of play, Carlos Ruiz(notes) isn't your everyday type of catcher. And so he threw off his mask, rushed toward the ball and somehow made the throw to Ryan Howard(notes) in plenty of time. Ruiz told reporters that he was "panicking," but it sure was hard to tell. 

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"I was lucky," Ruiz said. "It was hard. He's a fast runner. I had to throw it hard."

Now that the play has been committed to memory and baseball history, it seems at least a little more routine. But when it was happening, all the different situations flashed through the mind in an instant. Would he throw it into right field? Bobble it while picking it up? Hold onto it instead of making a play? Wait too long before throwing and put the first base umpire into a Jim Joyce-type position?

There were so many ways for it to all go wrong.

There was only one way for it to go right. 

Said Halladay:

"I saw it bounce around the bat, tough play, good runner. Carlos made a great play. It kind of hit the bat and chucked up a little bit. It definitely wasn't an easy play, but it couldn't happen to a better guy to have Carlos get the last out." 

Lately, there haven't been many better guys to have catching your team. The 31-year-old is coming off his best offensive season and now he's the only backstop in history to catch a perfect game in the regular season and a no-hitter in the postseason.

Yes, Halladay's phenomenal achievement will be the sole focus of this night when we look back at it in the years ahead. But while we're still fresh in the moment, let's acknowledge that Ruiz completely earned his spot in that picture frame.

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