phillies kapler compares j alfaro, philadelphia, pudge, jorge

“I don’t know that 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. And he’s starting to look like a guy who is going to be a fixture in our lineup for a long time.’’

By Sam Bush

Kapler was talking about his 24-year-old catcher Jorge Alfaro and “Pudge” is Ivan Rodriguez, who by the way is in the Hall of Fame. Kapler did play three seasons alongside Rodriguez, so he has a notion of what he’s saying.

Kapler was effusive in his praise last night after Alfaro’s laser throw turned an apparent bunt hit into an out as the Phillies completed a 3-0 victory over the Braves, inching the Phillies within half a game of the division’s top spot.

This was the first time since September of 2011 that the Phillies hosted an NL East rival with both teams at least eight games above .500. After four consecutive losing seasons for Atlanta and five for the Phils, the upstart clubs entered the day 1-2 in the division.

Nick Pivetta tossed seven innings of four-hit ball and was supported by home runs from Nick Williams in the fourth and Aaron Altherr in the seventh — the latter a two-run shot as a pinch-hitter — as the Phils improved to 17-6 at home, the majors’ best record.

Pivetta also got plenty of help from his defense, particularly center fielder Odubel Herrera and Alfaro, who nailed a runner attempting to steal in the seventh, then followed that with another nice play, pouncing on a Dansby Swanson swinging bunt down the third-base line and throwing him out.

The third-year catcher from Colombia has stabilized a position that had been shaky in the last few seasons, and Kapler couldn’t be more thrilled.

“Pudge and Alfaro know each other. I think Pudge is a fan of Alfaro,’’ Kapler said. “From an athleticism standpoint, arm strength, foot speed, quickness, they’re neck-and-neck, at worst.’’

Alfaro, who is batting .255 with four homers, acknowledged Kapler’s comments boosted his confidence, but his more immediate focus is on the Braves. His Phillies batterymates did an outstanding job of shutting down the first two hitters in the Atlanta lineup, Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr., limiting them to one hit in eight combined at-bats.

Similar success the next couple of days might allow Philadelphia to leapfrog the Braves.

“This series is very important for us because we really want to be in that first place,’’ Alfaro said. “These days we’re going to be competing for that. We want to move up to first place.’’

The purpose of journalism, and in this case any Philly digital site, is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

FASTPHILLYSPORTS.COM separates itself from the other Philadelphia blogs that provide Philly sports news because we do not accept the conventional wisdom, which is what the teams want you to believe even if a simple eye test tells you not to.

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