Martin cruises to first win behind breakout offense
Asche launches first career homer and falls triple short of cycle
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies front office must have liked what it saw Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
As it evaluates everybody and everything with 48 games remaining this season, rookies like right fielder Darin Ruf, third baseman Cody Asche and right-hander Ethan Martin had pretty significant afternoons in a 12-1 victory over the Cubs. The victory gave the Phillies their first series win since they took two of three from the White Sox just before the All-Star break last month.
Ruf went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. He hit a two-run home run to left field in the third inning to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead. Ruf had reached base safely in 33 consecutive games until Wednesday, but perhaps he started a new streak Thursday.
Asche went 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and two RBIs. He had a two-run home run to right field in the fourth to give the Phillies a nine-run lead. It was the first home run of his big league career.
"It was pretty cool," Asche said. "Just to round the bases and shake Ryno's [third base coach Ryne Sandberg's] hand as I went past third. Being able to touch home and have Brownie [Domonic Brown] smile and waiting for me. It was pretty cool."
After getting one hit in his first 17 at-bats, Asche has five hits in his last nine, including two doubles and a home run.
He is finding his way.
"Cody can hit and Cody can play and he's going to make himself a better player and a better hitter," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "That's just the way he is. A lot of people like to talk about him being a mini Chase and he has a little bit of that mentality, but I think Marti [Wolever, assistant GM and head of amateur scouting] did a really good job on guys like Ruf and Asche. They're good baseball players and they have a chance to be very good."
Martin allowed four hits, one run, three walks and struck out four in five innings to pick up his first big league win.
"I was really impressed by Martin's poise today," Amaro said. "It could have been a struggle after his last couple of innings in his last outing, but he's got pretty good poise out there. I really liked the way he pitched. He gets in trouble sometimes with his command, but he worked out of it pretty well and, by in large, it was a pretty impressive effort."
That first win is something Martin has been thinking about for a long time.
"Since I was a little kid," he said. "As long as I can remember. So to be able to do this makes me pretty happy."
"I'm real happy for Ethan," Asche said. "He's a real competitor on the mound and I love playing defense for him. I've gotten to know him the whole year in [Triple-A Lehigh Valley] and the half year in [Double-A] Reading. He's a guy I love to play defense behind. He's competing and that's his makeup. He's going to give you his best every day and he's going to work hard if it isn't good enough."
Ruf could be in the Phillies' outfield next season. Asche could be their third baseman and Martin could end up somewhere on the pitching staff. It is not a stretch to see him pitching out of the bullpen. He throws hard and the Phillies are desperate for help there after many of their young relievers have faltered.
"The beauty of Ethan is that he's done both," Amaro said. "Right now there is no reason to take him out of the rotation. He's done a pretty good job for a youngster and I like what I've seen so far."
Brown added two RBIs and Chase Utley, who just agreed to a two-year, $27 million contract extension, doubled twice.