Cody Asche was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after Monday’s loss to learn left field. (Photo Credit: Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports)
The bats were starting to come alive for some of the slumping Phillies, but it wasn’t enough as the team fell to the Pirates on Monday to being the three game set.
Two RBI singles by Phillies right fielder Grady Sizemore and Odubel Herrera’s first career wasn’t enough as the Phils fell to the cross-state rivals 4-3 on Monday at Citizens Bank Park.
Three pitches have hurt the Phillies chances of winning the first three games and Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg has had enough.
“It becomes more frustrating,” said Sandberg. “In close games like that, the little things add up. We just need to tighten it up and do the little thongs better.”
On Saturday, Aaron Harang hit just a tad to much of the strong and New York Mets’ hitter Juan Lagares took the ball past the fence. That home run was the difference in that ball game as the Phillies fell, 3-2.
Sunday’s game featured Chad Billinglsey throwing a ball just right for Curtis Granderson who took the ball yard. That home run was the difference on Sunday as the Phillies fell, 7-4
Today was the same; Jerome Williams (2-3) hung a curveball to Starling Marte with two Men on base. Marte took advantage and that was the difference in the ballgame.
“I had Marte with two strikes, and I left a curveball up,” said Williams. “He hit it out. It’s one bad pitch. We just have to turn the page, come back tomorrow and play better.”
Chase Utley had a single in Monday’s game. He has now hit in three straight games for the first time this season.
Herrera struck out his first three at-bats before blasting a solo home run on an 0-2 pitch in the bottom of the night to bring the Phils within one. In the last six games, Herrera has 14 strikeouts.
Five Phillies relievers limited the Pirates to one run.
Points to Mention
The Pirates have had the Phillies number as the Fightin’s drop to 0-1 against the Pirates this season. Last year, the team was 1-6 against the Pirates. In the last 22 games, Pittsburg has 9-2 record in the last 11 games in Philadelphia.
Phillies entered the game tied with Milwaukee for the major’s worst winning percentage. The team has dropped 10 of 13 to fall to 11-22 (.333), the worst start for the team since 1997, when the started out the season losing 20 of 29 games.
The Phils are last in the majors in several offensive categories and the team has averaged 2.14 runs in its 22 losses. In 14 of those games, the team has scored two runs or less.
Former Phillie Antonio Bastardo did not pitch for the Pirates last night, He was placed on paternity leave. In seven games, the left-handed pitcher has a 6.43 ERA.
Sean O’Sullivan (0-1, 4.91) returns to the rotation after taking care of knee tendinitis and will take the hill tonight against former Phillie A.J. Burnett (1-1, 1.66). Burnett wanted to get out of Philadelphia so bad from last year, he took four million dollars less to sign with the Pirates, declining a 12.75 million player option with the Phillies in favor of the Pirates one-year, $8.5 million offer.
Does down goes Asche mean time for Franco?
To make room for O’Sullivan, Asche was optioned to Triple A- Lehigh Valley. He was 2-for-4 in Monday’s loss to the Pirates, he was sent down to receive work in left field. The 24-year-old must remain in Triple A for at least 10 days.
For those 10 days, it looks as if Andres Blanco and Cesar Hernandez are the candidates to take over at third base.
“Cody Asche is a big part of the future, so this is something that’s best for Cody and the organization going forward,” said Sandberg. “He will go down there, play left field and he will come back when he’s ready to be back, he’ll be back.”
“I’ll never stop believing that I am a big league baseball player,” said Asche, who was very emotional. “One hundred percent, whatever challenge comes my way, I’ll handle it fine and be back in this uniform soon.”
In 30 games this season, Asche has hit .245 with two home runs and four RBI’s. He has also committed four errors in the field.
It is rumored that the team sent Asche to Triple-A because they believe that Maikel Franco is their third baseman of the future. Franco is expected to be promoted to the big leagues, but not until Friday at the earliest, because if the team waits until then, they can delay Franco’s free agency from 2020 to 2021.
No matter what, the Phillies still like Asche, which is why the team find a way for him to remain in the lineup.
The Phillies started working Asche in left field before Spring Training but when camp opened in February, it ended.
“We didn’t really pull the plug,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. earlier in the day on Monday, before Asche was optioned down. “We just put it on hold”
When Asche restarted his left field work last last month in St. Louis, it caught him by surprise.
He was shocked once again on Monday, not only with the fact the team wanted him to play left field, but by the fact they wanted him to learn in the Minors, somewhere he hasn’t played since 2013.
“I’m shocked, but I understand,” Asche said. “Going forward as an organization, it’s better for me to play left field, so I’ve got to do that.”
“He’s a good kid,” Utley said of Asche. “He’s a hard worker. I think he understands the situation and is going to go down there and have a positive outlook and try to be the best left fielder he can be. There is no doubt in my mind that he is going to work at it and be a good left fielder. Obviously, we all know that his bat plays at this level. He’s still learning, and that’s what I like about him. He doesn’t think he has it all figured out. He wants to continue to learn and get better.”
There are a few other examples of prominent big leaguers that made the move from an infielder to an outfielder (or vice versa) with success. The list includes Craig Biggio, Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun.
Asche has 72 hours to report to Lehigh Valley, but it is not known when he will report.
“Hopefully he reports on Tuesday,” said Sandberg. “The sooner he gets going, the sooner he gets some games under his belt and comes back.