A season's worth of frustration seemed to bubble to the surface in the seventh inning Wednesday, when Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young and best friend Justin Upton were ejected within moments of each other during a 7-6 loss to Pittsburgh at PNC Park.
Batting with the bases loaded and two outs in a 7-5 game, Young was called out on strikes on what he believed was an inside pitch. Young threw his bat down at the plate with both hands and immediately was ejected by home plate umpire Larry Vanover for throwing his equipment. Young then got into a heated argument with Vanover, and manager Kirk Gibson had to put a bear hug on Young to keep him away.
Upton, who has lockered next to Young since the two became teammates in 2007, tossed his batting helmet toward the plate as the argument ensued. Upton said something as he entered the dugout and was ejected by second base umpire Alfonso Marquez.
"It's just a big situation and my adrenaline was running and I just reacted to how I was feeling," said Young, ejected for the first time in his six-year career. "With such a close game, I am passionate about winning, and we are in a playoff race."
Compounding the frustration in the seventh was that the Pirates committed three fielding errors on the infield, two with two outs, to give the D-backs a golden opportunity to get back into the game. The D-backs (56-55) fell five game behind San Francisco in the NL West and 7 1/2 behind the Pirates in the race for the second wild card.
"Obviously, Justin is going to stand up for his teammate. We kept battling," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
With two-thirds of his outfield out of the game, Gibson was forced to do some major changing. Jason Kubel entered to play left field, with Gerardo Parra moving to center to replace Young. Infielder Willie Bloomquist, who made his first start of the season at second base, was moved to right field to replace Upton, the first time Bloomquist had played outfield this season. Aaron Hill entered to play second base.
Young, hitting .213, got off to a great start this season, with five home runs in his first 11 games, before suffering a slight tear of a shoulder ligament when he collided with fence in left-center field while catching a deep fly by Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez on April 17. He is hitting .172 with six homers since returning to the active roster May 18.
Upton is not having the season he did in 2011, when he had 21 homers and 88 RBI and finished fourth in the NL MVP balloting. Upton is hitting .272 with only nine homers and 45 RBI in 103 games.