PHILADELPHIA -- It took Albert Almora all of three plays to first make an impact in the Major Leagues.
With Odubel Herrera on third base and Freddy Galvis up with one out in the first inning on Wednesday, the Phillies' shortstop hit what appeared to be an easy sacrifice fly into Almora's glove. But the 22-year-old left fielder came up firing and threw a 91-mph dart, as measured by Statcast™, to Miguel Montero, who tagged out a surprised Herrera, who didn't even attempt to slide.
"That was a big play," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after the Cubs' 8-1 win at Citizens Bank Park. "That took anything away from them momentum-wise. … He just threw a bullet."
Seven innings later, Almora made a more lasting memory. He singled up the middle off Colton Murray's glove for his first Major League hit, which drove home Anthony Rizzo from third. Almora came around to score later that inning on a Javier Baez single.
When Almora reached first, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was the first to congratulate him on his milestone. Only more kind words awaited Almora in the Cubs' dugout after he touched all four bases.
"Both of them felt really good," Almora said. "Both were key parts, I felt, to the game. I'm just happy to help the team out."
When he was informed Statcast™ pegged his throw at 91 mph, Almora replied, "Really?", squeezed his right bicep and laughed.
In his debut Tuesday, Almora pinch-hit for Kyle Hendricks and grounded out to third. After two games in the Majors, Almora is 1-for-5 with an RBI and run scored. Through 54 games with Triple-A Iowa, Almora was hitting .318 with 33 runs scored and 30 RBIs.
"It's new, so he's still in that 'happy-to-be-here' stage," Maddon said. "But I just like the way he's going about his business, in the batter's box, around the rest of the guys. … He's going to be a very good Major League baseball player."
Almora was ecstatic to receive the news of his callup Monday night. He woke up his father, who is going through radiation treatment for prostate cancer, in Florida, with the news.