MIAMI -- Just how bad have the Marlins been since their offseason salary purge?
Wins above replacement, a catch-all statistic, measures value based on how much a player outperforms a common baseline. The baseline is the theoretical minor-leaguer, available to any team at any time.
With a WAR of minus-0.2, the Marlins this season actually have fallen below that threshold, making them statistically no different from a bunch of minor-leaguers.
Yet in their 8-1 loss to the Marlins on Saturday, it was the Mets who looked much more like bush-leaguers.
Jose Fernandez, the Marlins' 20-year-old pitching phenom, matched a career best by tossing seven shutout innings. He retired the last 10 batters he faced and didn't allow a runner past first base.
"Obviously, we're scuffling,'' Mets captain David Wright said. "We had a nice series against the Yankees where we got wins. But offensively, we still really didn't do that much.''
The Mets arrived in Miami having won five straight, including four in a row against the Yankees. But in two games against the Marlins (15-41), the Mets have been outscored 13-2, continuing their ongoing offensive slide.
"Yeah, I'll tell you a recurring theme,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We're not getting hits. That's recurring.''
Featuring a high-90s fastball and sharp command of his secondary pitches, Fernandez (3-3) finished with eight strikeouts, one short of tying a career high.
Mets spot starter Collin McHugh (0-1) lasted only four-plus innings in his first appearance since May 21. Pitching in place of lefthander Jonathon Niese, who was skipped in the rotation because of shoulder tendinitis, McHugh allowed four runs and six hits.
Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis, who began the day hitting .045, tripled home a run. Fernandez, who brought a .154 average into the game, also lined a run-scoring single off McHugh.
Helped by Daniel Murphy's error, the Marlins made it a rout in the seventh, tacking on four more runs.
Of course, the Mets' offense hardly helped the cause, even when the game was within reach.
"Offensively, we're trying to go up there and chase hits,'' Wright said. "We've struck out a lot this year, so part of it is guys don't want to strike out, therefore we're swinging at mediocre pitches [to hit] early in the count. I've been guilty of that also.''
In virtually every important offensive category, the Mets ranked second-to-last in baseball for the month of May. They ranked second to last in runs (88), batting average (.222), on-base percentage (.284) and on base plus slugging percentage (.639).
The Mets would have ranked dead last in each of those categories last month if not for the woeful Marlins, who somehow have been worse.
"Well, this is what we have to work with,'' Wright said. "So we're going to have to figure it out. There's no magic potion, or there's no offensive savior that's going to come get us out of this thing. It's just up to us to work our way out of it. That starts with having a solid game plan, which I think we have. Now it's a matter of us going out there and executing, and we're just not doing that right now.''
The Marlins had won only one series all season long, taking two of three from the Mets (22-31) from April 29 to May 1. But Saturday's victory clinched series win No. 2 for the Marlins, who are on pace to finish with 119 losses -- one short of the modern record of 120 set by the 1962 Mets.