Ruhle had by far his best season as the Astros’ number-four starter in 1980, when the team won its first division title. He went 12-4 with a 2.38 ERA and was the center of a controversial play in his Game Four LCS start. With two runners on in the fourth inning, Ruhle fielded a soft liner off the bat of Garry Maddox and threw to first base for the double play. However, Philadelphia players raced out of the dugout to argue that Ruhle had trapped the ball. During the argument, first baseman Art Howe stepped on second base and claimed a triple play. After 20 minutes, it was ruled a catch, but the triple play, “completed” after time had been called, was disallowed. Ruhle had a no-decision as the Astros lost in the tenth inning.
Houston won the second half of the strike-split 1981 season, and in Game Four of the divisional playoff Ruhle matched Dodger ace Fernando Valenzuela with a four-hitter but lost 2-1.