Justin Upton was not pleased with the way home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor was calling the game Tuesday night.
Having recorded just two hits in 16 at bats prior to the game, the right fielder was frustrated. And the umpire wasn’t helping.
“C.B. kind of eye-walked him all the way out to the outfield, and I’ve had that done to me as a player,” D-backs Manager Kirk Gibson said. “You kind of get baited into getting thrown out.”
That would seem like a bad idea, as the Diamondbacks were struggling for the second night in a row against the bottom-feeding Astros.
But Gibson knows his players, and he gave Upton the option of getting tossed.
“When he came in off the field I said, ‘you can do this two ways: you can go out and have a blowout, go ahead if you want to go for it; if you’re that frustrated go for it. Make sure you don’t do anything extra and get anything beyond this game,'” Gibson said. “I said, ‘or, you can just stay in the game and win the game for us — possibly win the game for us.'”
Upton chose door number two.
The All-Star hit a two-run double in the fifth inning to bring the D-backs within two of Houston, and in the sixth inning he belted a two-run homer to give the D-backs a lead they would not relinquish.
So, while Upton’s maturity has been a topic of conversation lately, he proved to his manager just how far he’s come.
“That’s just a real sign of maturity by this kid,” Gibson said. “And this team relies heavily on him.”
That they do, and once again Justin Upton delivered. The circumstances just make it all the more impressive.