Ruiz ties MLB mark for catching no-hitters
CHICAGO -- The logic seemed simple enough to Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz on Saturday. For eight innings, he had worn his sunglasses, and for eight innings, Cole Hamels had not given up a hit. But as the sun hid behind the third-base stands and the shade fell over home plate at Wrigley Field, Ruiz took off his glasses before beginning the ninth.
Then the thought finally crossed his mind, that maybe he hadn't been superstitious enough, and maybe he had hurt Hamels' chances at the no-hit bid. He had been in this situation before, having caught three no-hitters already in his career.
But Ruiz got off the hook, running out to hug Hamels after the lefty completed the no-no and the Phillies' 5-0 win over the Cubs.
"I didn't think it can happen [once I removed them], but finally it did happen, and I'm real happy," Ruiz said. "Today was one of those games when I knew he was on."
A nine-year veteran, Ruiz caught the fourth no-hitter of his career, tying a Major League record with former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. He previously caught Hamels' other no-hitter, a combined effort with relievers Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon in September 2014, when Hamels threw six no-hit innings.
He caught two no-hitters by Roy Halladay, one against the Marlins in May 2010 and the other in the National League Division Series against Cincinnati that same year.
"Personally, I'm real happy," Ruiz said of his feat. "It's special for me, and I'm excited right now -- so are my teammates and Cole. I'm trying to do my best behind home plate, and I give everything to Cole, because I'm the guy who caught the ball, and he did everything in different situations."
A quiet and reserved player, Ruiz has caught several other excellent pitchers beyond Halladay. He's been around to catch Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee, but his relationship with Hamels has been one of the longest.
"We get into habits where we don't even need to call signs," Hamels said. "I think that's something special. I think anybody who's been able to have a combination like that kind of has that understanding.
"When you're able to get that, it's special. That's tough to develop. He's a tremendous catcher and it just shows. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be catching that many no-hitters or perfect games."
Ruiz knew Hamels had struggled as of late with his two-seam fastball, so he told him stick to his four-seam pitch. And he knew how effective his curveball had become, so when Hamels had 0-2 counts, Ruiz made sure he threw the pitch.
Ruiz knew, around the sixth inning, that Hamels was in for a special day. He understood the pitcher and maintained the same approach inning after inning. Except for his sunglasses, of course.
"I'm really happy for him," Ruiz said. "That was special."