Kirk Gibson is not a fan of Ryan Braun. This is well-documented.
Ever since it was revealed that Braun was using banned substances during the 2011 postseason — the same postseason in which Braun’s Brewers dealt Gibson’s Diamondbacks a crushing walk off loss in Game 5 of the NLDS — there’s been a feeling that the Diamondbacks would try to “get back” at him when the opportunity arose.
The opportunity came Tuesday night.
After Kyle Lohse, struggling with his control for much of the night, hit his second batter of the game (Chris Owings was hit near the neck), Diamondbacks Doctrine more or less dictated that someone was going to get it in response.
Evan Marshall came on in relief of Mike Bolsinger in the 7th inning. After surrendering a single to Lyle Overbay and a double to Scooter Gennett, Marshall faced Braun with first base open and one out.
Braun narrowly dodged the first pitch he saw from Marshall, causing home plate umpire Ted Barrett to walk the ball out to Marshall as an informal warning. The next pitch squarely hit Braun, and Barrett gave Marshall one of the more emphatic tossings you’ll see this side of Joe West.
Marshall got a fistbump from Gibson as he stepped into the dugout, and was met with high fives from his teammates while receiving a standing ovation from the crowd at Chase Field.
Despite the visible sign of approval, when Gibson was asked after the game if he felt it was necessary to hit Braun, he declined to answer.
“I’m not going to comment on that. You’ve been around the game long enough,” Gibson said.
Ron Roenicke disagreed.
“It was on purpose, there’s no question,” Roenicke said in comments that aired on Fox Sports Wisconsin’s postgame show.
Brad Ziegler came on after Marshall was ejected, and on the first pitch to Jonathan Lucroy, this happened:
“That was the best at-bat I’ve ever seen,” Roenicke said. “After they smoke our guy, they bring in their closer, and the first pitch he sees, he hits a grand slam. There’s no way an at-bat can get bigger than that.”
Lucroy was interviewed on the field after the Brewers sealed the win, and after talking around one question about the eventful inning, he finally gave his thoughts after some pressing.
“That situation was all messed up, we didn’t hit their guy intentionally at all,” Lucroy told Fox Sports Wisconsin’s Telly Hughes. “In a one run game we aren’t going to hit a guy in the head, that’s ridiculous.”
Marshall kept up appearances after the game, giving the standard answer when you get ejected for intentionally throwing at a guy.
“Gameplan there — guys in scoring position, the plan is to get a groundball and my best stuff is down and in, and the ball got away,” Marshall said.
Perhaps the Diamondbacks would have more credibility in this situation if there wasn’t a rather long history of their desire to play eye-for-an-eye. But even if you’re old school and can talk yourself into understanding why the Diamondbacks felt the need to retaliate, the timing is questionable — 7th inning of a one-run game to load the bases for the guy with the second-highest batting average in baseball — as is giving a fistbump of approval and high fives to a guy who just left the bases loaded without recording an out.
Now at 14 games under .500, the Diamondbacks appear to have put Playing The Game The Right Way ahead of Playing To Win The Game once again.
“[They] won tough-guy points today. But I don’t know where the stats are for those,” Kyle Lohse told MLB.com reporter Adam McCalvy after the game. “You’re going to play tough-guy stuff? Go ahead. We’re winning games.”