It’s gone from bad to ugly.
The National League’s top fielding team committed a season-high three errors Saturday in a 11-3 loss to the Mets, the Marlins’ ninth defeat in their past 11 games.
There was a passed ball to boot.
For all of their obvious faults — from starting pitching to inconsistent hitting — defense has been the one area where the Marlins have shined.
Not so Saturday at Citi Field, where it was an unsightly mess.
“Tonight wasn’t our proudest moment,” said manager Don Mattingly.
First baseman Justin Bour botched a ground ball to start the game, and it went downhill from there. Sure-handed third baseman Martin Prado booted an easy-hop grounder, left fielder Marcell Ozuna dropped a fly ball, and catcher J.T. Realmuto was charged with a passed ball.
Prado even bobbled a potential inning-ending double play grounder. The Marlins got only one out on the play — one on which no error was charged — and three Mets runs ensued.
“It’s not something you see a lot from us,” Bour said.
The Marlins had made only nine errors all season, and never more than one in a game. At one point, they went 23 straight games without an infield error.
But their league-best fielding percentage took a beating Saturday.
So did Odrisamer Despaigne, who started in place of Wei-Yin Chen. Despaigne, who was rushed up from Triple A after Chen landed on the disabled list with a tired arm, was roughed up in the first inning of his first big-league start in two years when the Mets touched him for five runs.
“It wasn’t nerves or emotions,” Despaigne contended. “It was a mixture of things. I hadn’t started a game in two years. There was the error at first base. All of that together kind of hurt me in the first inning.”
After Bour’s error, Despaigne gave up back-to-back doubles, walked three batters and hit another with a pitch before he got out of the inning. The Mets sent 11 batters to the plate in the first.
Despaigne settled down after that, retiring 10 straight before the Mets got him for three more runs.
“(Despaigne) kind of hung in there after that first inning,” Mattingly said. “It could have been really bad for us as far as our bullpen.”
Despaigne even had to sit through a 39-minute rain delay in the top of the third but returned and continued pitching well after that — at least until the fifth when he ran out of steam.
“He’s an experienced guy,” Mattingly said. “I think the starter always in that first inning, you hope they get off on a good foot, get comfortable out there. I don’t think he’s a guy who’s going to be out there totally nervous.”
While five of the eight runs charged to Despaigne were unearned, he was hardly blameless in the Mets assault. He gave up five hits, four walks, and plunked a batter in only 4 2/3 innings.
The Marlins trimmed the Mets lead to 5-3 in the fifth on Ozuna’s ninth home run, a two-run shot off Mets starter Robert Gsellman. But the Mets erupted for six more runs off Despaigne and long reliever Dustin McGowan to put the game out of reach.
“I don’t know if I’d call it a rut, really,” Bour said of the Marlins’ recent struggles. “This is a resilient team that’s gone through a lot, and we’re going to come out on the other end of it. We just have to play better. I wouldn’t go any further than that.”
Said Mattingly: “We’re trying to put a win on the board right now, however you get to that. We just got off to a bad first inning. But we didn’t help ourselves tonight, that’s for sure.”
Dustin McGowan to put the game out of reach.