Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz made perhaps the defensive play of the season when he made a diving stop and then shuffled the ball to second base for final out in the eighth inning against Phillies Aug. 12.
“I was talking to my wife about it last night and I think that’s one of my favorite ones, just given the situation we were in, the team we were playing,” Ruiz said before the Orioles’ game Aug. 13.
The Orioles held on for a 5-4 victory that night and then completed a three-game sweep the following day. They have won five consecutive games and are 10-7 entering play Aug. 14.
The Orioles are one of the early surprises of this abbreviated season and are in contention for one of the spots in the expanded playoffs.
“I’m pleased with our play so far this year. I’m proud of our guys,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I think we’re playing hard, I think we’re playing hungry. I think our guys are improving.
“But we’re in a tough division and this is a tough league and we have a tough schedule and we’re not going to back down from anybody and we’re going to continue to play hard and see where we are at the end of this thing. But I’m not looking too far ahead.”
Ruiz, 26, has been a cog in the resurgence of the rebuilding club. He is slashing .271/.333/.604 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in 12 games (54 plate appearances). He hit .232/.306/.376 last year.
“I guess you would say the more consistent I am with barreling balls and the positions I’m in,” Ruiz said of why he has improved this year. “Obviously I want to continue that, so just continue the body of work that I’ve had throughout the offseason and the shutdown and even throughout the course of the season. Look to continue that obviously and hopeful that the results will stay there.”
After an uneven 2019 season, he focused on improving his glovework this offseason and it’s paid off. The play against the Phillies underscored his commitment to getting better.
Ruiz has no errors this season.
“I take tremendous pride in my defense,” he said. “I have over the course of the past four or five years of my career. Coming up and drafted as a young player, I didn’t think defense was too big of an aspect of the game and that was kind of the wrong way to think. I kind of got kicked in the butt later in my career and was told to take my defense a little seriously. And I started then.”
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