It was spectacular at times, sloppy at others.
But one thing was certain Thursday in the Marlins’ 5-2 loss to Kansas City: It was defense that dictated the outcome.
Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson robbed Christian Yelich of a potential home run, becoming the first player in Marlins Park history to take away a four-bagger with a leaping grab at the wall.
Kansas City second baseman Raul Mondesi made not one, but two sensational fielding plays. On the first, he nipped speedy Dee Gordon on a nifty catch-and-throw that took place all in one motion.
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And yet the irony of it was that the Royals, for all their defensive wizardry, were charged with three errors, one that provided the Marlins with their only two runs.
The Marlins weren’t exactly fancy fielders, either.
A throwing error by Gordon and passed ball by catcher J.T. Realmuto proved costly in the sixth when the Royals broke a 2-2 tie by coming up with a pair of runs off Tom Koehler, only one of which was earned.
Then, when Mondesi stole third in the ninth, he came home on Realmuto’s throwing error.
All if it added up to a Marlins loss that gave the Royals the series.
“It was an interesting game,” Koehler said. “And we’ve got to give them credit. They capitilized on mistakes we made today. We made a few, and they got the two runs there.”
For Koehler, who has pitched exceptionally the past month, it was his first loss since July 16 after going 3-0 over the six outings that followed. Koehler gave up a two-out RBI double to Salvador Perez in the third after the Marlins decided to intentionally walk Eric Hosmer to get to the Royals catcher.
And Alcides Escobar homered off Koehler to lead off the fourth.
If not for the Royals’ defensive miscues in the fourth, the Marlins would have come empty entirely against Kansas City starter Edinson Volquez and their bullpen.
But everyone was talking about the first inning plays.
When Gordon slapped the ball up the middle to start the first for the Marlins, Mondesi raced into the hole to backhand the ball, then throw in a sweeping motion to get the first out.
One out later, Yelich drove a ball to deep center.
Dyson raced back, planted his left foot against the wall to provide lift, reached over the top of the wall with his glove, and came down with the ball. The Marlins lowered the fences before the season just to give outfielders the chance to make those types of catches, and the first one cost the Marlins.
“The play in the first by Dyson might have been the best play I’ve seen in person,” Koehler said. “They wanted to bring those fences down so people could rob homers, and there was one.”
Said Yelich: “It was a great play. It’s a huge part of the ballpark. We know we play in the worst hitter’s park in baseball, and you better get it. I didn’t get enough of it and he made a great play.”
Marlins manager Don Mattingly described both plays as “spectacular.”