PHOENIX — Raise your hand if you thought Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero, he of the .198 batting average entering the night, would provide the big hit in Friday night’s 3-2 win over the Phillies.
Unless your name is Kirk Gibson, your hand is probably down.
“I’m pretty sure he’s going to have an opportunity tonight,” Gibson said after slotting Montero into the eighth spot in the batting order for the first time since May 12, 2011.
Gibson’s hunch materialized in the eighth inning when Montero crushed a go-ahead home run off the right-field foul pole, giving the D-backs a lead they would hold for their fifth straight win.
“It just worked out,” Gibson said through a smile and a laugh. “When you’re hitting eighth, you’ve got to tell yourself you might come up in a situation to do something good.”
Montero wasn’t the only slumping hitter to come up big Friday, as Martin Prado delivered an RBI single an inning earlier to tie the score at 2-all. Prado entered the at-bat 1 for 31 with runners in scoring position this season, hitless in that situation since Opening Day.
The unforeseen production from Montero and Prado lifted the D-backs to a win but could perhaps do more if it helps the pair get hot and start hitting as expected. Though Prado has four home runs on the season, he had tallied just eight RBI and was hitting .234 entering Friday. Montero has been hitting under .200 since April 10.
Naturally, coming through with an impact hit was satisfying for both.
“It feels great,” Montero said. “It feels great to help the team. I’ve been disappointed with myself not being able to hit the ball the way I want to or get the production I was expecting to. I know it’s early, but I’ve had so many opportunities and I didn’t get it done.”
Prado was a little more reserved in his reaction, but his hit was no less crucial. It came at the end of a lengthy at-bat with two outs and was just the third D-backs hit of the night.
“He gave me the chance to have a good at-bat,” Prado said. “I was just trying to hit the ball hard the other way, and finally he threw a fastball.”
So can a couple hits in one game snap a guy out of a prolonged slump?
“I hope so,” Gibson said. “I told you guys before the game I feel like (Montero) is getting closer, but the results hadn’t been there. He was just missing a little. Hopefully this helps him relax a little bit and we’ll get him back on track.”
Gibson said Montero probably won’t be back in the eighth spot Saturday. The move was really about matchups anyway, Gibson explained before the game, and not a demotion due to a lack of production.
Maybe the contributions will inspire a little confidence that snowballs for both Prado and Montero; maybe not. As the duo’s big hits Friday displayed, baseball is an unpredictable game.
Perspective can be important after games like this — Montero is still hitting .202 and Prado is still 2 for 32 with runners in scoring position — but on Friday, their struggles so far this season were rendered irrelevant.