PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro popped up from behind home plate, tossed aside his mask, scurried to retrieve the ball several feet away, spun and fired a throw to first baseman Carlos Santana to end Monday night's 3-0 victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.It looked like Braves
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro popped up from behind home plate, tossed aside his mask, scurried to retrieve the ball several feet away, spun and fired a throw to first baseman Carlos Santana to end Monday night's 3-0 victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.
It looked like Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte had dropped down a perfect bunt. Not perfect enough for Alfaro.
"I don't know if there's another catcher that I've ever seen -- and I played with Pudge -- that makes that play in the ninth inning," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "He is spectacularly talented, spectacularly athletic, incredibly durable. He's starting to look like a guy who is going to be a fixture in our lineup for a long time."
Alfaro made three fantastic defensive plays in Monday's victory. Two came in the seventh inning, with the Phillies holding a 1-0 lead. He caught Johan Camargo stealing second base for the inning's second out. Statcast™ tracked Alfaro's throw at 88.3 mph. He then fielded a Dansby Swanson roller in front of the plate. Alfaro fielded the ball, spun and threw to first to end the inning. Statcast™ tracked that throw at 80.1 mph.
Alfaro's "max effort" throws on stolen-base attempts average 90.5 mph, the best mark in baseball.
"I don't really think about how hard I have to throw it or how hard to throw it or what the situation of the game is," Alfaro said. "It's just reaction, mainly. I want to be accurate. That's my main thing. I want to release the ball quick and be accurate."
So about Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez not being able to make that play. Really?
"I don't think anybody else makes that play," Kapler said. "I will say that I've played with them both and from an athleticism standpoint, arm strength, speed, quickness, they're neck-and-neck, at worst."
Alfaro and Rodriguez actually know each other a bit from Alfaro's time with the Rangers, who traded him to the Phillies in July 2015.
"We shared some time together talking about the game, everything -- hitting, defense, most of the time -- and calling games," Alfaro said.
What does he think about what his manager said?
"I don't know if I believe that," Alfaro said. "But it means a lot to me that the manager has a lot of confidence in me."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.