PHOENIX (AP)—The final out of his first win in the books, Kirk Gibson turned to his coaches and calmly shook a few hands. He repeated the process with the procession of players coming off the field and nonchalantly snagged the game ball on a toss from Adam LaRoche(notes) before heading into the clubhouse.
Unflappable as ever, Gibson treated his first game as manager with typical coolness even if his stomach filled with a ball of twisted nerves.
The Arizona Diamondbacks made sure their new icon-turned-skipper won his debut with an early offensive outburst and a big homer by Chris Young late to roll over the Los Angeles Dodgers 12-5 Friday night.
After 17 seasons filled with World Series titles and an MVP as a player, Gibson was thrilled to be a rookie again.
“I felt like it was my first major league game again,” Gibson said. “It was a great feeling. I don’t know how many people get to enjoy that feeling. It’s like euphoric.”
Arizona gave Gibson some stomach-acid relief by battering Hiroki Kuroda(notes) (7-6) early and scoring nine runs on 11 hits in the first three innings. Miguel Montero(notes) and Mark Reynolds(notes) had two RBIs each, and Young provided the breathe-easy cushion in the seventh inning with a three-run homer off Justin Miller(notes) that put Arizona up seven.
Young matched a career high with five RBIs from his once-familiar spot atop the lineup, Edwin Jackson(notes) (6-6) labored through five innings in the follow-up to his no-hitter and the Diamondbacks had 13 hits to keep Gibson from sweating it out after a whirlwind 24 hours that ended with the new manager giving a very brief postgame talk.
“I can’t tell you what I said after the game,” Gibson said. “It was only two words.”
Arizona fired GM Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch on Thursday with the team still hugging the bottom of the NL West. In their place for the rest of the season will be former big league pitcher Jerry Dipoto and Gibson, the fiery former player whose career was epitomized by an iconic, limp-around-the-bases homer against Oakland in the 1988 World Series.
The hope for Arizona was that Gibson would imprint his never-hold-back personality on the sometimes-blase Diamondbacks, get them to treat every pitch as if it were their last, just as he did.
Sporting a retro, bushy mustache, Gibson made only one lineup change, moving Young back into the leadoff spot for the first time this season.
The Diamondbacks responded to the shakeups with a bat-swinging fury, swatting Kuroda around for three runs in first inning on four hits and two walks. Three more came across with two outs in the second, set up by Kuroda’s wild pitch and subsequent throwing error by catcher Russell Martin(notes).
Kuroda was done following Reynolds’ bloop, run-scoring single, lasting just five outs after giving up six runs on eight hits.
“I really didn’t get the right feel for my mechanics or delivery,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “You get hit like that and give up a lot of runs like that there is obviously some kind of problem with my delivery or mechanics.”
Even with Kuroda’s struggles, Los Angeles had its chances.
“Like in football when you score a touchdown, you’ve got to get the ball back,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “That is the thing we weren’t able to do. They got three, three, three the first three innings and that is tough to overcome.”
Those three threes put Arizona up 9-3 and gave Jackson a nice cushion after his arm-hanging no-hitter a week ago.
The right-hander overcame eight walks and a hit batter to toss the majors’ fourth no-hitter this season against Tampa Bay last Friday, needing a whopping 149 pitches to get through it.
There wasn’t much chance Arizona was going to let Jackson go that deep again, even with a couple extra days off, though Gibson joked that he should be stretched out enough to go 150 pitches against the Dodgers.
No need to worry about that.
Jackson lasted just 88 pitches this time, grinding through just about every at-bat. His hitless innings streak ended with Loney’s leadoff single in the second inning and he later gave up DeWitt’s two-run single. Loney also had run-scoring singles in the third and fifth innings, giving Jackson a post-no-no line of four runs on seven hits.
“It’s always good to get a win,” Jackson said. “I’m not a selfish person and it’s not always about me. It’s a team game and if we get a win as a team, regardless of who played well and who didn’t, it’s pointless because we won and we get to come in an enjoy the win.”
NOTES: Jackson’s hitless streak was the second longest in Arizona history, behind the 12 innings Randy Johnson(notes) put together during three starts in 2004. … LA’s Rafael Furcal(notes) was 2 for 5 to extend his streak of multihit games to six. … Young had five RBIs three other times, most recently April 9 against Pittsburgh. … Los Angeles had won seven straight over Arizona.