Ruf pinch-hits, launches first homer of season

Ruf pinch-hits, launches first homer of season

NEW YORK -- It looked and sounded like Darin Ruf took a year's worth of frustrations out on a 96 mph fastball in the sixth inning Friday night at Citi Field.

He crushed a pinch-hit, two-run home run to left-center field against Josh Smoker in a 10-5 loss to the Mets. Ruf's first home run of the season came with just eight games remaining in 2016, which is something nobody would have predicted at the beginning of the year. He opened the season in a platoon at first base with Ryan Howard, but after he hit just .158 in 31 games, the Phillies optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he remained until they recalled him Sept. 2.

"It would have been tough to look back on the year after hitting 14 homers in '13 and 12 last year to be shut out an entire year," Ruf said. "It would have been tough, so I'm glad I got one."

Ruf's blast traveled a projected 450 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™, making it the Phillies' fifth-longest homer of the season. It also left his bat at 109.6 mph, making it the ninth-hardest-hit homer from Phillies this year.

Not bad, considering it was Ruf's first plate appearance since Sept. 13.

"It's just one at-bat," Ruf said. "I mean, lucky that I was on the fastball. It's part of being a professional hitter. It doesn't matter how many games in between at-bats, you need to go out there. And no matter how bad or good you feel, put together an at-bat to help the team."

Said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: "Sometimes it's good to come in cold like that. You just look for the ball and swing."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.