Bryan Holaday was beside himself.
It was the Marlins’ April 5 game with Philadelphia, and the Phillies were running wild. They stole four bases in a row with Holaday behind the plate, and he was never angrier.
“I was pretty hot,” Holaday said. “Anytime somebody steals a bag, I get (hacked) off. I get mad at myself because I feel like I should throw everybody out, and not in a cocky way.”
But Holaday has had nothing to be mad about since. He’s thrown out seven consecutive runners trying to steal bases, setting an obscure Marlins record in the process.
The previous record for throwing out runners: six straight, accomplished by Bob Natal in 1993 and Charles Johnson in 1996, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I take a lot of pride in that,” said Holaday, who was oblivious to the mark until it was brought to his attention on Wednesday. “I know my role. I’m defense first. I care about my pitchers. I care about getting them through a game and care about controlling the running game.”
Though he has started infrequently, with J.T. Realmuto handling the bulk of the catching chores, Holaday’s 67 percent success rate leads the majors.
As a group, Marlins catchers also lead the majors with a 53 percent success rate on stolen base attempts.
“Our pitchers do a tremendous job of holding runners, and I think that’s why we’ve had success throwing runners out this year,” Holaday said.
Still, Holaday takes it personally.
When the Phillies were stealing all those bases, he was livid with himself.
After Cesar Hernandez stole second — the fourth of the game for the Phillies — he decided to try to steal third, too.
“That was the final straw,” Holaday said. “(I told myself) ‘I’m throwing that (expletive) out.”
And he did.
“I guess that’s what I needed to get going,” Holaday said. “Maybe I needed that game to kick me in the (butt).”
Three days later, when Holaday was back behind the plate for the first time since the April 5 game, the Phillies challenged him again when both Rhys Hoskins and Pedro Florimon tried to steal bags.
“With all the analytics and scouting reports, they know which catchers to test and which not to,” Holaday said. “And if you’ve had success, you’re going to keep going. Why not?”
Holaday threw out both.
The following night, the Mets’ Michael Conforto tested Holaday’s arm. He was thrown out, too. Holaday has thrown out three more since without failure, with the Braves’ Ender Inciarte becoming his seventh straight victim on Saturday.
Teams are no longer running as much on Holaday, much to his chagrin.
“I want them to keep going,” he said. “I like throwing guys out. That’s fun.”
All it takes is one poor throw, or a poor hold by the pitcher, to end his streak.
“Most of those plays are bang-bang,” Holaday said. “And if your throw is a little high or a little low, it’s the difference between somebody being safe and being out.”
Now he is within range of the major league record by a catcher: 12 in a row.
“All I think about when a guy steals is I’m going to throw him out,” Holaday said. “So the record’s not in my head at all. But if I get close, let me know. I’m definitely going to keep that ball.”