By Sam Bush
The Phillies opened the 2014 season believing they would compete if they could keep their veteran core healthy. The trouble is their young players struggled.
“It’s part of the learning process, learning what you can and can’t do,” Cody Asche said of his turnaround since a rough April. “And just building off that on a daily basis. Each game is independent from the last. You’ve got to look at it that way, and that’s the kind of approach I’ve taken.”
Asche doubled in two runs in the seventh inning last night to seal the Phils’ 7-4 win over Miami. But he was hitting .200 with three doubles, one home run, six RBIs and a .584 OPS in April as manager Ryne Sandberg occasionally benched him in favor of Freddy Galvis (.156 OPS in 46 plate appearances) and Jayson Nix (.445 OPS in 43 plate appearances).
But then Asche got hot, showing some of the promise that had Phillies officials excited about his promotion from Triple-A last year. He hit .317 with five doubles, three home runs, 12 RBIs and a .956 OPS in 17 games in May before he strained his left hamstring and landed on the disabled list.
Asche has picked up where he left off. He is hitting .368 (7-for-19) with three doubles, five RBIs and an .895 OPS in five games since he rejoined the roster.
“He’s better than in May,” Sandberg said. “He’s been on the ball and aggressive on strikes. He’s hitting the ball hard consistently. He’s even ahead of where he was before. He’s an added bat, and that’s good to have.”
Asche has hit sixth the past two games, which seems to be a good place for him in the lineup.
“Since he came back, [I] like the way he’s using the whole field,” Sandberg said. “Showing some good pop.”
But a big reason for the Phillies’ 10-5 record since June 8 is the bullpen, which picked up right-hander David Buchanan. He allowed six hits, two runs, four walks and struck out two in five innings. Buchanan found himself in trouble throughout the night — he had at least a runner in scoring position in four of his five innings — but avoided major damage.
Buchanan is 3-0 with 3.06 ERA in his last three starts, although he has pitched more than five innings just once.
Left-hander Mario Hollands struck out one in a perfect sixth. He has not allowed a run in 15 2/3 innings over 17 appearances since May 17. Right-hander Ken Giles struck out two in a perfect seventh. He has allowed just two hits, one run, two walks and has struck out 12 in six innings since his promotion June 8.
B.J. Rosenberg, who was recalled this week as a long man, allowed two runs in the eighth inning. If the game had been closer, Justin De Fratus might have started the inning. De Fratus has not allowed a run in 13 appearances since being recalled May 25. It could have been Antonio Bastardo, too. He has a 0.49 ERA in 16 appearances since May 11.
But after Rosenberg allowed a single to Ed Lucas following Garrett Jones’ two-run homer, which made it 7-4, the Phillies went to Jake Diekman. He struck out Reed Johnson to end the inning. Diekman has a 2.78 ERA in 23 appearances since April.
Jonathan Papelbon then picked up his 18th save with a scoreless ninth.