Not once had Nationals reliever Enny Romero hit a batter with a pitch. At least not in his 80 major-league innings.
When he struck Derek Dietrich with one to lead off the seventh inning, though, tempers flared.
“I wasn’t pleased getting hit there,” said Dietrich, who had words with the pitcher as he made his way to first. “I know it’s part of my game. But I’m trying to send a message that we’re not going to let it fly.”
Perhaps it’ll wake the Marlins from their early season blues.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Marlins dropped a 6-4 decision to the Nationals on Wednesday night in a game that wasn’t without incident. Washington starter Tanner Roark hit two batters, including Dietrich, early in the game.
When Dietrich was hit a second time, he had had enough.
So had Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who fumed when home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa issued warnings. Mattingly’s beef: “We got hit three times and we got a warning. Didn’t seem quite right. I didn’t quite understand that.”
Mattingly expressed his displeasure with Kulpa, who promptly ejected him.
Dietrich was hit by more pitches last season than any player in the National League.
Normally, he doesn’t show any emotion when he’s hit by one.
But Dietrich has now been hit three times in two games, and the last one by Romero was the final straw.
“It was the second time in the game,” Dietrich said. “I’d had enough getting the ball inside like that. We’ve got to take charge of that inner half, and we will.”
Romero and Dietrich were once teammates in Tampa Bay’s farm system. If they were friends then, it’s unlikely they are now.
But the plunking wasn’t the turning point Wednesday.
What was was a messy fourth inning when the Nationals turned a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead by scoring four runs off Dan Straily, who was making his debut for the Marlins.
While Straily had given up a solo homer to Ryan Zimmerman in the second, it was the fourth that brought about his undoing. And it wasn’t all his fault.
Marlins fielders should have caught two fly balls in the inning. Instead, one — a Bryce Harper foul ball — was misplayed by Adeiny Hechavarria, who was playing near second with the infield shift on Harper. That gave Harper new life, and he used it to come through with a game-tying double.
The other was Jayson Werth’s shallow fly ball to center. Christian Yelich and second baseman Dee Gordon converged on the ball before it dropped in for a hit. That loaded the bases for Matt Wieters, who drove in two runs with a double.
“They did a good job of just hitting them where we weren’t,” Straily said. “They kind of found all three triangles on the field where it’s tough to get to. So it was just a long inning, and they were able to find some holes.”
Mattingly wasn’t pleased with his team’s play defensively.
“It was a frustrating game early because I thought we made too many mistakes,” Mattingly said. “Not being in the right spots. Just little stuff. We’re throwing the ball around where we don’t need to. We’re not taking the outs we’re given. Honestly, we didn’t deserve to win the game. We didn’t play well enough to win.”
And it was another typical effort by the Marlins, who are continuing to look like last year’s pounce-early-wither-late team.
For the second game in a row, the Marlins jumped on top 2-0. And for the second game in a row, they lost.
Marcell Ozuna’s two-out single in the first off Roark put the Marlins up early. But the only runs that came later were J.T. Realmuto’s solo homer in the eighth and his RBI single in the ninth.