Asche has a forgettable night in the field as Phillies lose

Posted: May 15, 2014

THE MAYOR of Millville, N.J., Michael Santiago, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

The Millville High School marching band performed before the game and the Millville High School choral ensemble sang the national anthem.

The Phillies went out of their way to make sure baseball's best player, Millville native Mike Trout, received a proper homecoming in his first professional appearance at Citizens Bank Park, a ballpark outside which he tailgated outside with friends as a fan during the 2008 World Series. (Notable: Trout can be a free agent after the 2020 season).

The celebration of the game's brightest young star, however, was soon overshadowed by a disaster of a game from the youngest everyday player in a Phillies uniform.

Third baseman Cody Asche made three errors, two during a four-run sixth inning, as the Phillies fell to Trout and the Los Angeles Angels, 4-3, last night.

"The kid had a tough night at third base," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Those kind of games can happen, but there's still work to be done and you keep working on it."

The Phillies welcomed 41,959 fans to the ballpark, the most since last month's home opener. A good portion of those people - some 8,000 were estimated to have made the trek up from Millville - were on their feet and clapping before public address announcer Dan Baker read Trout's name aloud as the game's second batter.

The 22-year-old Trout received hearty cheers throughout the night, but he factored little in the outcome. Trout went 1-for-5 with a single; he didn't pull off any of his infamous home run-robbing catches in center, either.

But Trout was one of five Angels hitters in an 11-batter span between the sixth and seventh innings to hit the ball at third base or down the third-base line. All five of those batters reached first base, as the 23-year-old Asche had a forgettable night in the field.

"Frustrating," a shell-shocked Asche said after it was over. "Not so much myself, but when you let a team down. Cliff pitched good enough to win a ballgame. He probably could have went all nine , if it wasn't for this - those miscues."

Sandberg said: "I thought Cliff was outstanding with his stuff. Probably could have pitched a shutout with that kind of stuff. That was shutout stuff."

Lee was done in by defense for the second straight start. Six days after the seventh inning in Toronto went bad on a miscue in centerfield by Ben Revere, Lee fired five shutout innings at the Angels before the troubling sixth inning.

Angels leadoff hitter Collin Cowgill began the sixth by ripping a double down the third-base line. Asche dived at the ball, but never stood a chance on the ball, to be fair.

After Lee followed by ringing up Trout on strikes, Albert Pujols hit a bouncing ball toward the hole between third and short and Ache booted it. Lee walked the next hitter, and then Chris Iannetta hit a ground ball to third base with the bases loaded and one out.

Asche fielded the ball cleanly, but fired wide of home plate, taking catcher Carlos Ruiz off the plate. Everyone was safe, and the Angels cut the Phillies lead to 2-1.

"Bad throw," Asche said.

Two batters later, Luis Jimenez ripped a ball down the third-base line, and again Asche didn't have a shot at it, and two Angels runner came across the plate to put the visitors up, 4-2.

Asche's third error of the game came in the seventh, when Trout hit a ball to the third baseman's glove side that he couldn't handle.

"I think we all know he wasn't doing it on purpose," Lee said. "It's a tough position. He got some funky balls - I know that last one was really tough. There's nothing you can do but turn the page."

The seventh was the final inning for Lee. He limited the Angels to six hits, while striking out seven and walking one.

All four runs Lee allowed were unearned, and the result of Asche's errors. The four runs were one too many for the Phillies to match.

"There are some plays I didn't make, there's no way around it," said Asche, who has taken regular, extra infield work with bench coach Larry Bowa nearly every day. "Stick to your roots, work, that's all you can do. Ask for more chances. They'll be there."

Asche was also hitless in three at-bats, lowering his average to .226 after 33 games. He has gone hitless in 11 of his last 18 starts.

After taking the first two games in New York over the weekend, the Phils have dropped two in a row, despite strong efforts from Lee and Hamels. The Phillies (17-20) are again three games under .500, their low-water mark of the season.

They have lost seven straight interleague games and 10 of their last 11 games to American League teams.

"When you don't play complete baseball," Lee said, "it's hard to win at this level. If you're slacking, if your pitcher is not throwing strikes or you're not playing solid defense, it's hard to win if any of those are missing. we have to do a better job of playing well-rounded baseball."

On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21


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