Anyone in Philadelphia who pretends they were most invested in seeing the Phillies perform in tonight’s ballgame is a liar. In this, the first of two games between the Phightin’s and the Los Angeles Angels, the emphasis was slightly skewed toward the visiting roster. Apparently, some kid named Mike Trout (spelling?) was in town tonight.
Mike Trout Millville Appreciation Night, as many as eight-thousand of the 28,000 total residents in the small town of Millville, New Jersey were present, along with three of their most recent mayors, an entire high school marching band, and varsity baseball team (seriously).
All of them were there for the express purpose of seeing their local legend play back home for the first time, and much to their satisfaction he was totally, physically there. He just didn’t have a ton of impact on the outcome of the game.
The Phillies weren’t exactly angry to have all this attention around Trout being back home, with attendance slagging in a bad year and, you know, how much they want to steal him in 2021.
He even had his own press conference to address being back with family and friends, framed in his briefing room by a massive Phillies logo on the table cloth in front of him. The Phillies offered discounts to Millville-ians, and it was a heartfelt return by both a player and his hometown; a real win-win for all those involved.
Except the actual Phillies. You know, the ones on the field in 2014 – not seven years from now.
They definitely lost.
The offense only managed three runs on four hits tonight, spread pretty evenly around. Chase Utley probably was the closest thing to a stand out, mainly because he’s always a shining star, but also because of his very uncomfortable looking triple in the fourth, scoring Ben Revere. He himself then scored on a well-timed single from Ryan Howard.
Later, Domonic Brown had a hustling triple of his own, and scored on a Carlos Ruiz sacrifice fly. Aside from three scattered walks, this was the totality of the Phillies offense tonight; it was pretty anemic.
Cliff Lee was on the mound today, and pitched his butt off yet again. In 7.0 innings, he allowed 0 ER, only 1 BB, 6 H, and 7 K in 114 pitches. He looked great. Additionally, Mike Adams and Jake Diekman were effective in each’s allotted inning, closing out the game and allowing no runs.
Now, if you re-read the last few paragraphs, you’ll notice an apparent logical inconsistency there – none of the pitchers gave up an ER, the offense managed three runs, but the team still lost. Infield defense was the problem here.
I feel bad for Cody Asche, because really he had an unlucky night. He made strong contact in all three of his appearances and looked really good there – he just hit them all directly at the fielders.
I generally argue that any loss where a team scores below the league average number of runs can’t totally be blamed on pitching/defense, but for as much of the loss can be blamed on it, it was caused by Cody Asche in the top of the 6th.
It was bad, and the look on his face the rest of the game said that he knew it. Three errors, two of which were fielding, and the other being one of the worst throws home on a force-out I’ve seen. He came into the game with three errors on the year, and doubled that tally within the span of 8 batters.
The otherwise impotent Angels’ offense piled it on during that inning, scoring four unearned runs (Luis Jimenez had a clutch two-run double during that time). That 4-3 deficit would be the final score of the game.
Despite the blame that I’m sure Asche would voluntarily accept, just saying “we have Cliff Lee on the mound” shouldn’t excuse the lineup from producing at least a league-average number of runs (MLB R/G average is 4.22).
The errors certainly didn’t help keep the score low enough to hide the deficiencies, but this games’ outcome shouldn’t rest of Cody Asche’s shoulders entirely.
Minor League Moment:
Maikel Franco added two more doubles in tonight’s Ironpigs game. This brings his May stat-line to: 13 G, 54 AB, 7 BB, 9 K, .352/.436/.574. He’s walking now, striking out less, and making stronger contact. Let’s hope he keeps it up – just don’t get too excited about the idea of him getting promoted yet. That thought is inevitable among some given Asche’s bad night, but Franco’s just not ready yet. Patience.