“Not what I expected,” he said.
Marrero also gave himself a memory he wanted, notching his first career hit in his second at-bat and redeeming himself in the field with two slick scoops at first. From the stands, his parents, Bladimir and Dania, watched alongside his sister Christina and his girlfriend. Marrero saved the ball from his first hit. He planned to give it to his father.
“If I told you I wasn’t nervous, I’d be lying,” Marrero said. “It was my first time here. But I was definitely excited. I guess as the game went on, after I got my first hit and, you know, I would say I felt more confident. I felt comfortable.”
The Nationals’ loss dropped them back into fourth place in the National League East, a half-game behind the idle New York Mets. They have shifted priorities from strictly winning into preparation for 2012, evidenced Saturday night by Marrero at first, Jayson Werth in center field and Michael Morse in left. For a team looking toward the future, the Nationals could have done worse.
Five members of the Nationals’ infield – third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, shortstop Ian Desmond, second baseman Danny Espinosa, starting pitcher Ross Detwiler and Marrero – were drafted and developed by the franchise, three of them first-round picks. Add catcher Wilson Ramos, and their entire infield unit ranged in age from 23 to 27.
The present, though, only damaged the Nationals’ hopes to finish .500, their latest loss dropping them seven games below that pace. Detwiler, hurt by Marrero’s miscues, allowed six runs, three unearned, on eight hits and a walk while striking out four in six innings. The Nationals managed less than four runs for the fifth straight game, their only offense coming on solo homers by Ramos, Werth and Morse.
“So we’re over that conversation, another position affecting them,” Manager Davey Johnson said.
The Nationals went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position, dropping their four-game total to a hard-to-fathom 2 for 47. This season, the Nationals are hitting .224 with runners in scoring position, second-worst in the majors and 22 points below their batting average in any other situation.
“If we knew the answer I think we’d do a better job at it,” Werth said. “It’s a mystery to me. . . .It’s almost unacceptable. It’s not almost, it is unacceptable. If you want to win, you’ve got to drive them in. Bottom line.”