On Tuesday, umpire Bob Davidson called a strike on a Miguel Montero check-swing in the third inning of the Diamondbacks-Cardinals game. Arizona skipper Kirk Gibson sprung from his seat and began barking as he walked to the top step of the dugout. As soon as he stepped on the turf, Gibson got the hook for the first time in his 93-game managerial career. But this didn’t slow him down.
Gibson charged the home plate ump, casting himself into a heavily animated, nose-to-nose tirade. Arms flailed, fingers pointed, spit flew. And Gibson reluctantly walked back to his dugout and down the tunnel to the cheers of the Arizona crowd. The D-backs went on to score seven runs after their manager’s ejection, beating the Cardinals 13-8.
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The fiery, unbridled attitude Gibson displayed on Tuesday epitomizes the tenacity of his club, and you’d be a fool to think it was a coincidence.
This D-backs team is blue-collar and gritty. They swing hard. They run hard. They play hard, win hard and die hard. “They work their butts off,” said Gibson –– the man who hobbled to the plate to hit a home run with two gimpy legs in the 1988 World Series –– following Wednesday’s 15-5 loss to the Cardinals.
Six games into a nine-game homestand, the D-backs have scored 44 runs and given up 47. They have managed 67 hits and given up 75. They’ve hit nine home runs and given up just as many.
Now, heading into a weekend series with the defending world champion Giants, the D-backs must maintain their edge. And, though they’re coming off a series loss to the Cardinals, the team has plenty of reasons to be confident. Chris Young, Justin Upton and Stephen Drew are all swinging hot bats, combining for 31 hits, 22 runs, and 20 RBIs at Chase Field this season. Add to that mix the pleasant surprises of catcher Montero –– who is hitting a whopping .444 this season –– and super-utility man Willie Bloomquist, and there’s reason to believe the D-backs can finish out this tough homestand (Reds, Cardinals and Giants) with a winning record.
Arizona fans can expect to see a different matchup this weekend than they’ve seen in the last two. While you won’t see the high-octane offenses of the Reds and Cardinals –– both powered by a players who have won the NL MVP at least once in the last few years in Joey Votto and Albert Pujols –– you will see one of baseball’s best pitching staffs in the Giants, led by two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.