Christian Walker knows himself well. He realizes that he is an emotional player and sometimes, those emotions are going to get the best of him.
But he’s also worked to be able to gather himself after moments like that and get refocused.
That was evident Friday night when he drove home three runs to ignite a four-run eighth inning and propel the D-backs past the Dodgers, 5-3, at Chase Field.
Rewind to the sixth inning and Walker was unhappy with home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott. Walker thought he had drawn a walk on a 3-1 pitch, but instead it was called a strike and he ended up flying out to end the inning.
During the break in the inning, Walker, who was back in the dugout since he was the designated hitter, let his frustration be known. Manager Torey Lovullo went out to talk to Wolcott to make sure the situation didn’t escalate.
Fast forward to the eighth. The D-backs, trailing 3-1, caught a break when Justin Turner committed a one-out error, and they would put runners on second and third with two outs.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts elected to intentionally walk Eduardo Escobar, who was hitting .133, to load the bases for Walker against reliever Blake Treinen.
As he stepped into the box, Walker turned to Wolcott.
“So part of the nature of who I am as a player, I feel like I’m on the more intense side of things, temper-wise,” Walker said. “I didn’t like the way that situation sat, regardless of how I felt about the pitch location. It’s unacceptable to put somebody on blast or show them up or anything like that. I don’t know if that’s how he felt, but it didn’t sit right with me. I wanted to clear the air, explain that it wasn’t anything personal, that’s how my brain works, I get really competitive.”
Wolcott told Walker he understood and there were no hard feelings.
That business out of the way, Walker was free to focus on the task at hand, and he hit the first offering from Treinen -- a 97 mph fastball -- over the head of Mookie Betts in center for a bases-clearing double and a 4-3 Arizona lead. David Peralta followed that up with an RBI single.
“Any time they intentionally walk somebody in front of you to load the bases in that situation, not that I’m trying to do more, but I definitely feel more of an attitude or chip on the shoulder,” Walker said. “It’s for the team. I know what this team has been going through and how hard we have been playing and not getting on the roll that we need. To come through for my teammates in a big spot meant a lot to me tonight.”
It was a curious decision for Roberts to make, given that Walker was one of the few D-backs hitters who had been swinging the bat well this year.
“I just think, for me, on the road with second and third, open base, I just liked the matchup with Blake vs. Walker more,” Roberts said.
Most managers hesitate to put the winning run on base late in a game like that.
“I think it’s different for me on the road, where I’m not trying to play for a tie but playing to win that game and get that hitter out and give my pitcher the best chance,” Roberts said. “It just didn’t work.”
It was a big win for the D-backs, who came into the game with a 2-4 record and an offense that was struggling mightily.
“I think everybody can feel the emotion in this win,” said Lovullo. “I know the stadium is certainty empty, but you can probably all understand the excitement we had. Much-needed win.”