Insert Carlos Ruiz flattery here

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz leads the majors with a .361 batting average. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)

Carlos Ruiz awoke Wednesday morning as the best hitter on the planet. He is batting .361, which leads the majors, and it is June 27.

This is real.

Someone asked the catcher if he had to pinch himself Tuesday night after another three-hit game, which included what proved to be the game-winning hit — a solo homer in the eighth.

Ruiz pinched his left arm.

"That's me," he said.

This is fun for Ruiz, of course.

The season is almost halfway over and he has established a new career-high with 10 home runs. He ranks in the top five in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. No catcher has led the National League in hitting since 1942 when Ernie Lombardi did it for the Boston Braves.

This will be hard to sustain, of course.

Not that it should temper what Ruiz has done. Two of his hits, including the homer, were on 0-2 pitches. He is succeeding even when the pitcher is extremely favored.

"When he's hitting good, I don't like to talk about it a lot," Charlie Manuel said, and then he proceeded to talk about it.

"When they get ahead of him," Manuel said, "they were going to blow him away inside."

That didn't work. Ruiz said when a hitter is going good, he can anticipate how pitchers will throw him. He says he is relaxed. But even then...

"It's hard to explain," Ruiz said.

That makes it all the more special.

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