"I want to definitely put in guys that are hot," Manuel said. "We need offense, man. We got to score, too."
Despite carrying a seven-game winning streak into Houston, the Phils have relied more on their pitching. Going into Thursday night's game, only the Los Angeles Angels (2.20) had a lower ERA than the Phillies (2.21) in September.
Their offense had scored 4.6 runs per game, which isn't awful; but they'd also scored three runs or less in five of 11 games this month.
The Phils ranked seventh in the NL in runs (51) in September, but are in the lower half of the league in hits (93, 10th), total bases (142, 10th) and batting average (.254, ninth).
"The more offense we get in there [the better]," Manuel said. "Chooch [Ruiz] supplies more extra-base power for us. He balances our lineup better in the five-hole."
Ruiz was activated last Friday after missing a month with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He's gone 3-for-5 with two RBI and a double in two games since his return.
Going into Thursday night, Frandsen, who has a stress fracture in his left shin, had been limited to two pinch-hit appearances since his last start on Sept. 4 in Cincinnati. He had hit .331 with a .380 on-base percentage in 33 starts this season.
Manuel said he might catch Ruiz on Friday [with Cole Hamels pitching] and again Sunday [Roy Halladay]. But he has to continue to monitor him, too.
"If [the injury] is not completely healed, the more active he gets on it, it can come back," Manuel said.
At this point, Manuel said Frandsen is more likely to play in back-to-back games. But before his first start in over a week, Frandsen wasn't certain he would be able to make it two in a row on Friday.
"I wish I could tell you but I can't still," Frandsen said. "I want to be in there, but I'm not going to put any added pressure on myself because we've been winning, you know. If I'm in the lineup or out of the lineup, it doesn't matter. I'm just there to help. I'm not a piece that's like, 'Oh you need him in there.' No. I'm just a little piece to this whole thing."
Biggio still around
There aren't many familiar faces - or even any former Phillies players left on the almost anonymous Houston Astros team, but Charlie Manuel found one while the home team took batting practice at Minute Maid Park. Craig Biggio, a special assistant to the general manager, chatted with Manuel for 5 minutes before Thursday night's game.
It might not have been the best omen for Philadelphia fans hooked on sudden wild-card fever.
On Sept. 7, 2005, the Phils were one out away from a win when Biggio ripped a three-run home run off Billy Wagner. Biggio's blast helped the Astros completed a three-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phils entered the series a half-game behind Houston for the National League wild card. When the season ended, the Phils finished one game behind the Astros.
"That's what we were talking about," Manuel said with a laugh. "I think he hit a 100 mph fastball. People forget about the play before it though, when [Willy Taveras] beat out an infield single with two outs. He had 40-something infield hits that year."
Chad Qualls got the victory that day and Brad Lidge recorded the save. Houston went on to play in its first World Series.
The 46-year-old Biggio, one of 28 players in baseball history to reach the 3,000-hit plateau, is Hall of Fame eligible next year. Among the other first-timers on the 2013 ballot: Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza.
This weekend's four-game series at Minute Maid Park will be the Phillies chance to say good riddance. With the Astros moving to the American League in 2013, this marks the Phils last regular trip to Houston.
The Phils entered Thursday 17-24 (.415) at Minute Maid Park; its their third lowest winning percentage among current NL ballparks, behind only San Francisco's AT & T Park (18-27, .400) and Pittsburgh's PNC Park (14-24, .368). The Phillies have been swept at Minute Maid four times since the park opened in 2000, including a four-game sweep in 2009.
Contact Ryan Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org.