Carlos Ruiz may not have an oblique strain after all

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UPDATE: The Phillies might have caught a break. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that Ruiz believes he suffered a cramp in his side last night rather than an oblique strain.

He is scheduled to take batting practice today and could be back in the Phillies’ lineup in the next couple of days.

9:22 AM: It’s still too soon to call the Phillies done, but they continue to make things pretty hard on themselves.

Carlos Ruiz left last night’s game against the Blue Jays with a left oblique strain. He received treatment after the game and will be re-evaluated later today, but Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he expects Ruiz will be sidelined for at least the next few days.

“That’s a big one,” Manuel said. “He’s our .360 hitter, the guy that’s been hot, the guy that’s been consistent. He won’t play for a few days, that’s for sure. We’ll know more tomorrow.”

Manuel is obviously holding out hope here, but given what we know about these types of injuries, a stint on the disabled list appears likely.

While the Phillies’ offense has struggled without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, Ruiz is in the midst of a career year. The 33-year-old backstop is hitting .363/.424/.578 with eight homers, 35 RBI and a 1.002 OPS in 58 games while throwing out 37 percent (17-for-46) of attempted basestealers. Brian Schneider will fill in behind the plate for now while Eric Kratz is expected to join the team in Toronto today.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.