You can bet the calls for Maikel Franco will start getting louder now.
Two Cody Asche errors led to a four-run sixth inning for Los Angeles Tuesday night as the Angels used those four unearned runs to beat the Phillies, 4-3. Seriously, can we please just stop playing the American League?
Phillies have lost 7 straight interleague games, 10 of last 11— John Clark CSN (@JClarkCSN) May 14, 2014
Asche would add another error to his total in the seventh, becoming the first Phillie third baseman since David Bell in 2005 to commit three errors in a single game (quotes per CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury).
"The kid had a tough night," Sandberg said. "Those things can happen."
"Those are plays I’ve got to make, no way around it," Asche said.
Those runs foiled a solid start by the snakebitten Cliff Lee, who pitched seven innings and gave up those four unearned runs on six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts, lowering his ERA on the season to 3.23. And it was the second straight game an outstanding Phillies start was undone by some other part of the team.
Phillies starting pitchers have allowed 1 earned run over 14 inn in last two games, both losses.— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) May 14, 2014
Offensively, the Phillies jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the fourth, thanks to an RBI triple that scored Ben Revere (replay officials ruled Utley was safe at third after Angels manager Mike Sciocia argued he had been tagged out before reaching the bag) and an RBI single by Ryan Howard past a drawn-in L.A. infield.
They then cut the lead to 4-3 in the seventh thanks to a triple by Domonic Brown and a sacrifice fly RBI from Carlos Ruiz. But after that, they could do no more.
Still, had it not been for those two Asche errors in the sixth, the Phillies would have been able to ruin the homecoming of Mike Trout, who had a relatively quiet night in his return to Philadelphia. Trout went 1-for-5 with a strikeout and made only a handful of routine plays in the outfield.
It was assumed May would be a good time for the Phillies to string together some wins, seeing as how they play 19 of their 27 games this month at home. However, it's tough to feel like Citizens Bank Park is much of a home field advantage when the team is just 6-10 there this season.
"That’s a little surprising," Sandberg said. "That’s something we need to improve on, no question about that. This place has to be a homefield advantage."
Meanwhile, Asche's defensive struggles and his 0-for-3 night at the dish on Tuesday (although he did hit two balls on the screws that were caught by Anaheim fielders), which dropped his batting average to .226 on the season, is putting his roster spot in jeopardy, especially now that Maikel Franco is getting hot.
Not that this would happen, but Maikel Franco is at .347/.439/.551 in 12 games (57 PA) this month. Heating up.— Matt Gelb (@magelb) May 12, 2014
Franco went 2-for-5 with two doubles, a run and three RBIs for Lehigh Valley on Tuesday night, and you can bet the siren calls for the young third baseman will start to grow even louder.
Of course, the smart thing is just to let Franco continue to develop in Triple-A and face pitchers who have an idea what they want to do on the mound. This would also give Asche more than just a month and a half to find his way out there, too.
We'll see how long the Phillies can resist that option. Regardless, Asche would do well to pick up his game… and soon.