The Phillies Suck But At Least This Darin Ruf On-Base Streak Is Fun

The Phillies Suck But At Least This Darin Ruf On-Base Streak Is Fun

Unsurprisingly, there haven't been a lot of positives to take from the Phillies' play as of late. When you lose 13 games in 14 tries and find yourself ten games further out of first place--ten games!!--than you were just a couple weeks ago, the cloud's way too big for you to find where any kind of silver lining might start. It's been a miserable, deadening slog that only got worse when the trade deadline passed and we were still stuck with the same exact crappy team that had already tanked the season beyond repair; going nowhere and unlikely to find direction anytime soon.

But yeah, there's been one good thing. It's probably been the only one, with Chase Utley and Cliff Lee slumping and the rest of our good players either injured or not really that good in the first place. But no doubt, Darin Ruf has been a find for this team. Stepping in for Ryan Howard upon the Big Piece's likely season-ending injury, Ruf has provided production that by nearly any measure has been superior to what the $125 million man was giving us, hitting at an impressive .299/.413/.494 clip, compared to the .266/.319/.465 RyHo was giving us.

The really impressive thing, though--and the only fun subplot of the Phils' post All-Star rock-bottoming--has been his on-base streak. 23 games into this season, and Ruf's yet to go a single game without safely reaching base in some manner. He's had a hit in 18 of his 23 games, and in the five hitless ones, he drew a walk in three of them and got hit by a pitch in the other two. (He already has as many HBPs as three-time league HBP champ Chase Utley this year, one of the season's more remarkable statistical feats.)

Bill Evans of the South Jersey Times even points out that going back to last year, Ruf has never failed to reach base in a game that he started, hitting safely in eight of his nine starts last year and drawing a walk in his ninth. Across both years, the streak is the longest of its kind running in baseball, and the longest for the Phils since Chase reached in 33 straight, a streak Ruf can tie tomorrow night against Chicago. And even fun streakiness aside, Ruf's ability to get on base is pretty impressive--his .413 OBP is easily the highest on the Phils (Michael Young and Ben Revere tie for second with mediocre .338s), and would be good for third in the whole NL if he qualified, which of course he doesn't in just 92 PAs.

Even with all this, Phils fans are wise to keep expectations tempered with the 26-year-old sophomore, who like his predecessor at first, also strikes out a metric ton (38 times in 35 games for his career) and plays pretty sub-par defense (worth -.3 wins already this year according to Baseball-Reference), and whose mediocre performance at Triple-A this year suggests his pro numbers may come down a bit before year's end. Still, we owe Ruf some gratitude for giving us a reason, any reason to still give the slightest of cares to this team's performance, to have something to watch for every night, no matter how trivial. It's not the same as Dom Brown's May dominance, perhaps, but we'll take what we can get on this friggin' team.

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

NEW YORK -- Andrew Ladd scored in the second period and Jaroslav Halak stopped 36 shots to lead the New York Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the crosstown-rival Rangers on Tuesday night.

John Tavares, Jason Chimera and Scott Mayfield also scored at the Barclays Center to help the last-place Islanders improve to 4-0-1 in their last five games.

Jimmy Vesey and Marc Staal scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 28 saves. The Rangers have alternated wins and losses in regulation in their last eight games.

Halak beat Lundqvist for the ninth time in their last 10 matchups. Halak had won eight straight -- including the last five after joining the Islanders before the 2014-15 season -- before Lundqvist ended the streak in the Rangers' 5-3 win in the season opener Oct. 13 at Madison Square Garden. Lundqvist is now 1-6-1 in his last eight against the Islanders (see full recap).

Schwartz lifts Blues over Canadiens in OT
ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz got his second goal of the game in overtime, leading the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

Paul Stastny also scored for St. Louis, which has won four of five. The Blues rallied from a 2-0 deficit and have a point in their last 13 home games.

Tomas Plekanec and Paul Byron scored for Montreal, which completed a five-game trip 2-3.

Goalie Jake Allen made 28 saves to improve to 13-3-3.

Schwartz lifted a backhander past goalie Al Montoya with 1:22 left in overtime.

Stastny and Schwartz scored in a 2:51 span in the third period to tie it at 2 (see full recap).

Blackhawks blank Coyotes to snap modest skid
CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa had two goals, Scott Darling made 22 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0 on Tuesday night to snap a two-game slide.

Artem Anisimov and Dennis Rasmussen also scored to help Chicago maintain a three-point lead over St. Louis in the Central Division.

Darling made a handful of tough stops but wasn't heavily tested in his first shutout this season and third of his career. He started his third straight game in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford, who had an appendectomy in Philadelphia on Saturday.

The 37-year-old Hossa scored his team-leading 13th and 14th goals in his 27th game -- surpassing his total of 13 last season in 64 contests (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Magic overcome Wall's 52 points to beat Wizards

Best of NBA: Magic overcome Wall's 52 points to beat Wizards

WASHINGTON -- Elfrid Payton scored 22 of his season-high 25 points in the first half and the Orlando Magic overcame John Wall's 52-point performance to beat the Washington Wizards, 124-116 on Tuesday night.

Wall had the highest-scoring game of his career and kept Washington in it with 33 points in the second half as the Wizards cut the lead below 10 in the fourth quarter. The guard made 18 of 31 from the field and added eight assists.

Payton went 8 for 8 from the field and 3 for 3 from the line off the bench in that first half, nearly matching his previous season best of 23 points in the first two quarters alone. Payton finished 9 for 12 and handed out nine assists.

Orlando won its third straight game and its 124 points were a season high (see full recap).

Spurs trounce Timberwolves to reach 13-0 on the road
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points and the San Antonio Spurs improved to 13-0 on the road this season with a 105-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

Leonard hit 11 of 15 shots after not scoring at all in the first quarter and Patty Mills scored 15 points off the bench for the Spurs (18-4), who played without Tony Parker after he bruised his left knee against Milwaukee on Wednesday night. San Antonio overcame a slow start to shoot 52.7 percent.

The Spurs moved past the 1969-70 New York Knicks to take sole possession of the second-best road start to begin a season in NBA history. The Golden State Warriors started 14-0 last year.

Zach LaVine scored 25 points for the Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns had 11 points and 14 rebounds, but shot just 3 of 16 (see full recap).

Anthony, Knicks blow past depleted Heat
MIAMI -- Carmelo Anthony matched a season high with 35 points, and the New York Knicks beat the injury-ravaged Miami Heat 114-103 on Tuesday night.

Kristaps Porzingis had 14 points and 12 rebounds for New York, which is three games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2012-13 season. The Knicks lost Derrick Rose to back spasms in the third quarter.

Goran Dragic scored 29 points and Hassan Whiteside finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Heat, who fell to 2-8 at home.

The teams were tied at 68 late in the third quarter, when the Knicks went on a 27-13 run over the next eight minutes to take control. Anthony finished 13 for 27 from the field, and Porzingis and Joakim Noah combined for 22 rebounds (see full recap).