CHICAGO -- Marlins hitting coach Eduardo Perez said the team's failure to produce with runners in scoring position is the primary reason it is languishing near the bottom of the standings.
"It's been frustrating," Perez said Thrusday before the Marlins closed out their series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field. "We would be better, obviously, if we produced with runners in scoring position. I don't think we would be in this situation. We wouldn't be where we're at right now."
In Wednesday's rain-shortened 5-1 loss to the Cubs, Emilio Bonifacio was left stranded at third after leading off the fifth inning with a triple. The Marlins didn't just miss out on three chances to score the man from third. Because of a botched rundown play, they actually came up empty four times. Carlos Lee, Logan Morrison, Hanley Ramirez and Greg Dobbs didn't produce the hit, or ground ball, or fly ball, that could have scored Bonifacio and given the Marlins a 2-1 lead. Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija retired Lee and Dobbs on one pitch. Morrison also hit the first pitch for a ground ball that turned into a botched play when catcher Geovany Soto dropped the ball in the ensuing rundown to get Bonifacio.
"Those are the players you put there for that situation," Perez said. "Yesterday we got into trouble because we swung at pitches that Samardzija wanted us to swing at. We went out there and swung at first-pitch breaking balls down in the zone. If you're going to miss, miss up in the zone. We've got to look up and realize that the pitcher's the one who's in trouble. We haven't been patient."
Perez said if the Marlins did a better job driving in runs, it would have a snowball effect on other facets of the game.
"It would take the pressure off the pitcher, and it would take the pressure off the defense," he said. "It's something we could easily take the easy route and say, 'I can't explain it.' But we've got to look at ourselves and take responsibility. I have to look at myself to take responsibility for it. And the players have to look at themselves and take responsibility for it."
The Marlins are hitting just .227 with runners in scoring position.
While confirming to a Boston sports talk radio station on Thursday that the Marlins inquired about outfielder Carl Crawford with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherrington, team president Larry Lucchino also dismissed the rumored trade involving Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell.
"(Marlins assistant GM) Dan Jennings, the guy from the Marlins front office who drafted Carl Crawford, he's been up in Boston scouting, presumably Carl Crawford and others, when Ben (Cherrington) let us know about that there had been an inquiry," Lucchino told WEEI radio. "And given the encouragement that we offer regarding being bold, I'm sure he said, 'What do you guys have in mind? What are you talking about?" That's just part for the course this time of year. We explore all possibilities, big ones, bold ones, small ones, incremental ones, whatever you can do."
Marlins: 1. Jose Reyes, ss; 2. Emilio Bonifacio, cf; 3. Carlos Lee, 1b; 4. Justin Ruggiano, rf; 5. Hanley Ramirez, 3b; 6. Austin Kearns, lf; 7. Omar Infante, 2b; 8. John Buck, c, 9. Mark Buehrle, p.
Cubs: 1. Reed Johnson, cf; 2. Starlin Castro, ss; 3. Anthony Rizzo, 1b; 4. Alfonso Soriano, lf; 5. Jeff Baker, rf; 6. Geovany Soto, c; 7. Darwin Barney, 2b; 8. Luis Valbuena, 3b; 9. Paul Maholm, p.