Chooch Exits Early as Phils Win 8-4

The Phillies (16-8) avoided a sweep as they defeated the Diamondbacks (10-13) 8-4 Wednesday afternoon.

Cole Hamels (W, 3-1) threw 108 pitches over seven innings, allowing three runs on four hits, walked one, and struck out eight – an impressive line considering he went 126 pitches in his last outing.

It was just the fourth time the Phillies have scored more than three runs in the last 16 games Hamels has started for the club dating back to last season.

The Phightins had long ball fever as Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard each hit solo blasts. It was Howard’s first home run in 55 at-bats. Jimmy Rollins led the squad with three RBIs, two of which came on his first homer of the season.

But it wasn’t all about going yard, as Placido Polanco, Ben Francisco, John Mayberry, Jr. (who started in place of the ever-struggling Raul Ibanez), and even Hamels contributed to the Phillies’ 12 hits. Polanco would go 4-for-5, scoring three runs, and leads the team with his .389 batting average.

Is it too early to wonder if the bats are back?

Although the Phillies got the “W,” it didn’t exactly go off without a hitch -- Carlos Ruiz left the game in the first inning due to tightness in his lower back. Jim Saliisbury with Comcast SportsNet tweeted that Ruiz will see a doctor tomorrow. "Asked if he's worried he said 'yeah.'"

As of this writing, the Phillies have not released any additional information on the Ruiz’s condition, but back pain in any catcher can become a lingering problem. It can hamper the ability to squat or kneel comfortably, as well as make routine mobility quite difficult, such as throwing out a base-stealer or reacting to foul balls and wild pitches.

What does this mean for the Phillies immediate future behind the plate should Chooch need to spend any time on the disabled list? Brian Schneider would presumably take over initially. I would be inclined to believe Erik Kratz would be called up from Lehigh Valley to back up Schneider. If necessary, Dane Sardinha and Tuffy Goeswhich would be the next catchers in line to fill in. Sardinha spent some time with the clue last season while Chooch recovered from a concussion.

The Phightins will be taking Thursday off as head back to Philly to begin a nine-game homestand, starting with Joe Blanton vs. the Mets on Friday.

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