Two players who were competing for the same job in March hope to keep putting on a show for opposing teams when the visiting Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics continue their three-game interleague series Saturday afternoon
The power of Kyle Schwarber, J.T. Realmuto and Alec Bohm, combined with the impressive pitching of Taijuan Walker, stole the headlines as the Phillies earned a 6-1 win in the series opener on Friday. However, center fielders Cristian Pache and Esteury Ruiz carved out some space for themselves on the game’s highlight reel
Ruiz, who was declared the winner of the battle to be the Athletics‘ center fielder in spring training, was pretty much Oakland’s one and only offensive force in the Friday loss. He singled home the team’s lone run and stole second in the third inning, then doubled and swiped third in the sixth
Oakland had only seven hits in the game.
The rookie not only leads the majors in with 35 steals, but he is also tied for second on the A’s in runs and RBIs with 29 apiece.
“I remember talking about him in April, whether he could get to 65-70 steals this year. My comment was: I truly believe so,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said after the Friday game. “He continues to steal bases. He continues to get on base. We’ve seen the speed and it’s real … it was a modified pitchout and he stole second, and (against) one of the best arms in baseball (Realmuto) and he steals third on him.”
Pache, who was dealt from Oakland to the Phillies on the eve of Opening Day for minor league pitcher Billy Sullivan, made his mark on the Friday game with his glove
With the A’s down 4-1 and a man aboard in the seventh, Pache laid out and hauled in a liner by Aledmys Diaz that appeared headed for extra bases. He then ended the inning one batter later by corralling a knuckling liner off the bat of Shea Langeliers.
“He looks great,” Phillies manager Ron Thomson said of Pache, who lost the Oakland job to Ruiz for mostly offensive reasons. “His defense is elite. That’s the new buzzword. And it is. It’s as good as it gets.
If Pache gets the start again on Saturday, he would be patrolling his pasture for left-hander Cristopher Sanchez (0-0, 6.23 ERA), who is expected to be promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make the start.
The 26-year-old started once for the Phillies this year, at home against the Colorado Rockies on April 22, and he allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings. He was immediately sent back to the minors, where he has gone 3-2 with a 4.35 ERA in 10 games (eight starts)
He has never faced the A’s, who have lost three in a row immediately following a seven-game winning streak. The Phillies posted their fourth straight victory on Friday
Oakland right-hander James Kaprielian (2-6, 6.89 ERA) will get the ball on Saturday for his first career matchup against Philadelphia.
The 29-year-old will take the mound on a two-game winning streak, having limited the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays to a total of five runs (four earned) in 12 innings over his past two starts.
–Field Level Media