MIAMI -- Bunt on Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto at your own risk. Albert Almora Jr. found that out in the second inning Saturday, when his seemingly perfectly placed bunt resulted in the Cubs' center fielder being thrown out at first.
Realmuto impacts a game in so many ways, and in Miami's 5-3 loss to Chicago at Marlins Park, the 26-year-old made a must-see defensive play to go along with his three-run homer off Jonathan Lester.
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"That guy back there does a great job," said Miami left-hander Justin Nicolino, who came up through the system with Realmuto. "Whether it's calling a game, blocking the ball, playing that defense. He picked us up huge with the home run. The guy is doing it all. It's impressive. A ball like that, it's a really good bunt. Coming out the chute, he made a good throw. Great defense."
Realmuto is having an All-Star-worthy season, batting .289 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs.
He gave the Marlins a 3-1 lead with his home run in the first after the Cubs scored in the top of the inning.
Statcast™ tracked it at a projected 411 feet with an exit velocity of 102.2 mph.
"With two outs and runners on first and second, I'm really just trying to get a single and get a run across the board and get a bounceback run after they score in the first inning," Realmuto said. "I really wasn't trying to do too much. I got a pitch I could handle."
The home run provided some early punch, but the play that had his team talking was his handling of the bunt by Almora.
The Cubs have had a couple of bunt-single attempts this series, mainly testing third baseman Martin Prado, who was reinstated from the disabled list on Thursday after being out with a right hamstring strain.
Instead, it was Realmuto, who ventured 44 feet down the third-base line, according to Statcast™, spun and threw Almora out at first.
"That was an incredible play on that bunt," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's a fun guy to watch back there. We've seen a couple of plays on this homestand, he's just been incredible on what he can do, the plays that he makes back there."
Realmuto credits infield coach Perry Hill for working with him on his footwork, which allowed him to be in proper alignment to make an accurate throw.
"Just reaction, I guess," Realmuto said. "To be honest with you, when I fielded the ball, I had no idea where first base was at. [Hill] has worked with me on replacing my feet. He always tells me, 'You don't need to see the first baseman. If you replace your feet, the right place and throw, it will be there.'
"It was a perfect bunt. I was just trying to make a play, it worked out for me."