And it is a crushing blow to these floundering Phillies.
"That's a big one," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's our .360 hitter. He's the guy who's been hot. He's the guy who's been consistent."
The Phillies could not win Friday, even when the Blue Jays were forced to use their bullpen just three batters into the game. They fumbled balls on defense yet again. The offense failed to support a solid pitching performance by Vance Worley.
The obituary for this team is hardly written in permanent ink, but Friday was a cruel twist of fate, like so many before it. A depleted Phillies roster cannot withstand much more. Manager Charlie Manuel started three utility players in the infield, and with Ruiz out, 35-year-old Brian Schneider would assume the everyday catching job.
How many more blows can the Phillies withstand?
"I don't know," Manuel said. "That's a good question. I don't know. But we have to keep going."
Ruiz's presence is hard to overstate. Roy Halladay has long called him the best catcher in the National League. The offensive surge in 2012 finally opened the rest of baseball's eyes to that possibility.
Entering Friday, Ruiz ranked among the National League leaders with a .361 batting average (third), .420 on-base percentage (fourth) and .579 slugging percentage (sixth).
"It would be terrible," Worley said. "He's been one of our most consistent guys."
Ruiz would have batted in the eighth with runners on second and third - the Phillies' best chance to score. Instead, it was Schneider, who was forced to face a lefthanded pitcher. He took a Darren Oliver breaking ball for strike three, and the rally was dead.
There should have been more opportunities. For the second time in three days, an opposing starter could not complete one inning against the Phillies because of an injury. Blue Jays righthander Drew Hutchison headed to the dugout after nine pitches with right elbow soreness.
It marked the third Toronto starting pitcher to succumb to injury in a span of five days, meaning Friday's game was ripe pickings for the Phillies against a depleted bullpen. The Phillies left five runners on base in the game's first three innings and never sniffed a run.
Worley was the victim of shoddy defense yet again. This loss was not totally to blame on errors. Worley permitted back-to-back doubles on breaking balls in the third inning and Toronto went ahead.
The game was pushed from reach in the fourth, when Mike Fontenot turned a possible double-play ball into an unearned run and three-base error with a wild throw not even remotely close to second.
Fontenot was at third only because Placido Polanco was not in the starting lineup. Polanco played twice in Minnesota after a six-game absence with a sprained wrist, and Manuel thought it would be best to sit him so he could play in two day games this weekend. (He pinch-hit in the ninth inning and grounded into a fielder's choice.)
"We got in at 4 o'clock in the morning," Manuel said, "and Polly has been banged up."
That Manuel needed to massage Polanco's schedule so as to not use him for more than two consecutive days should say plenty. The 36-year-old's glove is exceedingly valuable, but his body is fragile.
Without a set infield, the defense has predictably suffered. The Phillies have allowed 25 unearned runs in 66 games this season. They allowed 34 in all of 2011.
By the end of the night, though, Fontenot's error was hardly what worried anyone.
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