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View Count: 150 |  Publish Date: August 29, 2013
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Asche comes up lame as Phillies beat Mets
Matt Gelb, Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013, 3:01 AM
NEW YORK - An innings shortage brought Daisuke Matsuzaka to Citi Field, where he enchanted the home fans Wednesday night. "Throw the ball!" one yelled in the third inning of a 6-2 Phillies victory. Boston once paid $51 million merely for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka. Now he is 32 and a slow-motion disaster on the mound for the New York Mets.
This is what happens when the games lose meaning. Someone must continue the unnatural act of throwing a baseball hundreds of times. For almost two hours, Matsuzaka lumbered until the Phillies cracked him. One flawed team outlasted another.
That is what spawned seventh-inning aggravation. Cody Asche, one of the few reasons these final 29 games matter, limped to first base. Interim manager Ryne Sandberg and assistant athletic trainer Shawn Fcasni convened. The conversation was brief; Asche accompanied them to the dugout.
The team described Asches injury as a "mild" right hamstring strain. If it is severe, it could suspend Asches tryout for third base.
More coveragePoll: Which new coach will have the most success?Follow the Phillies: Download our FREE Pro Baseball app!Forum: What record will the Phillies finish with?Latest Phillies videos Special section: Top 25 Phillies prospectsThese games are for acquiring important information. Asche is but one protagonist. His first 26 games offered a taste of quality play, but it may not be enough data to anoint the 23-year-old a starter in 2014.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said he could envision a spring competition between Asche and the organizations top prospect, Maikel Franco. Sandberg described Asche as "the full package" after an impressive game Monday. His single Wednesday extended a nine-game hitting streak.
With or without Asche, Sandberg will continue his lineup creativity. He schemed his 13th different batting order in his 13th game as manager.
"That is not by design," Sandberg said. "Thats just happening for different reasons. It is not optimal."
Domonic Brown could soon return. He missed his fourth straight game with soreness in his right Achilles tendon. Darin Ruf did not start Wednesday for the first time in 33 games but entered in the fifth inning.
As manager at triple-A Lehigh Valley, Sandberg was known for his constant alterations to his lineup. He used 26 batting orders in his first 28 games as manager in 2011. It is not unusual to have a fluctuating roster in the minors, but Sandberg often moved his regulars up and down the lineup.
"I go day-to-day, whatever makes sense, if theres something I want to try to win a baseball game," Sandberg said. "I check out my personnel every day and see if theres anyone I think can help win us a game, get some at-bats."
This lineup - which featured an outfield of Pete Orr, Roger Bernadina, and John Mayberry Jr. - elicited face palms in the first three innings. Matsuzaka threw 82 pitches to record nine outs. The Phillies twice stranded the bases loaded.
It was a painful ordeal. Matsuzaka held the ball for as long as 45 seconds between firing pitches. The crowd groaned on prolonged delays.
The Mets telecast slapped Matsuzakas face on a clock and timed the length. From 2007 to 2011, Matsuzaka averaged 25.3 seconds between every pitch. Only Josh Beckett was slower among starting pitchers, according to Fangraphs.com.
Three Phillies scored in the fifth. Matsuzaka plunked Mayberry with the bases loaded. That was his 110th and final pitch. Cole Hamels, who pitched seven solid innings, slashed a two-run single to left for a 4-1 lead. The aimless game lingered into the night without either Matsuzaka or Asche.
Contact Matt Gelb
at mgelb@phillynews.com.
Follow on Twitter @magelb. Matt GelbInquirer Staff Writer #post2 .pw-icon.ra1-pw-icon-reddit {background: url() 0px 0px no-repeat !important;width: 60px !important;height: 20px !important;margin-right:8px;}#post2 .pw-icon.ra1-pw-icon-email {background: url() 0px 0px no-repeat !important;width: 71px !important;height: 28px !important;}1commentsReprints & Permissions »

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Time: 4:24  |  News Code: 324561  |  Site: philly.com
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