Monday was a pretty bad day to be Mets fan.
Earlier in the day, it was revealed that one of the best young pitchers in the game, nay, one of the best PITCHERS in the game, Matt Harvey, was being shut down due to a torn elbow ligament. Chances are good he will need Tommy John surgery, putting him on the shelf for the rest of this year as well as the 2014 season.
Even with the Mets in the same division as the Phillies, no one wants to see one of the bright young stars of the game get hit with an injury like this.
Yeah, sorry New York!
Lee, who went into last night’s game with a 4.76 ERA in his previous seven starts, had his second straight good outing. Last night he twirled eight innings of five-hit, one-run ball, striking out seven and walking just one to lower his ERA to 3.07. Jonathan Papelbon came on and recorded a 1-2-3 save in the ninth for his 22nd of the season, but just his second since July 13.
But the real story of the night, other than Harvey’s injury, was the continued improvement of third baseman Cody Asche, who drove in the Phils’ two runs with a two-run triple in the fourth inning. Last night, he went 2 for 3 with a walk to raise his batting average to .253. Back on August 8th, it was .185. That’s a 68-point improvement over his last 33 at-bats. And since he started his Phillies career in a 1 for 17 funk, he’s 20 for 66, hitting .303 with nine extra-base hits and 13 RBIs in 19 games.
That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.
Cliff Lee is a fan.
“He’s getting more comfortable,” Lee said. “His skills are starting to show. He’s starting to play more comfortably. I know his first week or so he looked a little tense, which is kind of normal. He’s put that behind him and now he’s being a solid player. I think that’s what everyone expects out of him. He plays the right way. I see him being here a while.”
Perhaps more importantly, so is the manager.
“From what I’ve seen, he’s the full package down there at third base,” said Ryne Sandberg. “I really like his range. He’s really come a long way (since spring training) with his glove work and his feet. And he has a true, accurate arm. He’s got a natural line-drive stroke. He’s got a good chance to hit the ball every time because his bat stays in the zone long. He doesn’t get too bothered about anything. He shows fire. He gets mad, but in a positive way. Very mature. Gamer. Good work ethic. A lot of good characteristics.”
As for Asche, he’s hoping his two-and-a-half month audition lands him the starting job in 2014. And heck, why wouldn’t it?
“I think that’s ultimately what I’d like,” Asche said. “But the season doesn’t end today. There’s still a lot of baseball to be played and I have a lot to prove. I just have to stay focused on what’s next and that’s tomorrow’s game.” – quotes per CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury and the Philadelphia Daily News’ Ryan Lawrence.
So while Monday night was a brutal one for the Mets, it also saw more positive developments for a Phillies team that has won 7 of their last 9 and is threatening to make a real run at third place in the NL East.
Baby steps, y’all. Baby steps.