NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Jesus gathered a throng of new believers on Monday.
Jesus Montero, that is.
The Yankees’ 21-year-old catching prospect, vital in an 11-10 win over the Orioles, reached across the plate and delivered a 93 mph pitch about a dozen rows deep into the right-field seats for his first major league home run, a tiebreaking solo shot in the fifth.
A Labor Day crowd of 45,069 at Yankee Stadium coaxed him out for a curtain call.
“They were all yelling for me to get out there,” said Montero. “(Jorge) Posada especially said, ‘Say hi to them.'”
Two innings later, he leaned for a 94 mph pitch on the outside corner and drove it 10 rows into those same right-field seats, a little bit more toward the foul line. He had another opposite-field homer, a two-run shot.
Curtain call No. 2 followed.
“I was dreaming of that before,” Montero said. “I was always telling myself before, ‘One day, I’m going to be that guy.'”
Four games into his big league career, Montero has made quite an impression. Since his debut at Boston last Thursday, he’s batting .385 (5 for 13) with five runs and the three RBIs.
“You don’t get too giddy on one game and you don’t get too down on another game,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You’re going to watch him over a period of time.”
With Posada hitting .100 against lefties, Montero could play himself into a part-time designated hitter role during the playoffs, at the very least. While Montero projects as the Yankees’ backstop of the future, Girardi is reluctant to put him behind the plate this year because he hasn’t caught the New York pitching staff since spring training.
After this, pitchers will be on the lookout for Montero.
“He might have to have a little quick adjustment after this game today,” said the Yankees’ Andruw Jones, who boosted his own prominence at old Yankee Stadium with a pair of homers in the 1996 World Series opener.
New York increased its AL East lead to 2½ games over second-place Boston, the Yankees’ largest margin since before play on July 3. New York has finished first in 38 of 42 seasons when it led on Labor Day, according to STATS LLC.
Girardi said it was too early to discuss Montero’s potential postseason role. With mother Cristina and girlfriend Taneth on hand, Montero just wanted to savor the moment. The Yankees even arranged for him to get both balls back.
“I showed a little bit to the fans, to the people. Now there’s more to come,” said Montero, who had 18 homers this year at Triple-A. “I hope everything keeps going good. I’m not going to say tomorrow I’m going to hit two home runs again, but I’m going to try to.”
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