(Sports Network) - Arizona skipper Kirk Gibson insists a return trip to Detroit to face his former club and old minor league manager Jim Leyland isn't about him; It's keeping the Diamondbacks on the winning path.
"They're the enemy. It's totally different. Tiger Stadium is where I played," Gibson told MLB.com "This is a different stadium, the organization has turned over quite a bit since I was last there. So I respect what they do.
"I certainly respect their manager, who was my first professional manager, who spent a lot of his heart and soul into making me a decent major league player and in essence has a lot to do with where I'm at today. He knows I'm trying to beat him and I know he respects me and he's trying to beat me as well. That's just mutual competitive respect."
Yup, just another game.
The Diamondbacks shoot for a seventh straight road victory and another win over an American League foe this evening when they start up a three-game set with the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Gibson spent 12 seasons with the Tigers as a player, hitting .273 with 195 homers and 668 RBI 1,177 games with the franchise. He helped lead the Tigers to the World Series in 1984, when he was the MVP of the American League Championship Series.
Arizona bench coach Alan Trammell was the MVP of the '84 World Series for the victorious Tigers and he spent his entire 20-year playing career with the franchise.
The two will try to offer up some tips for the Diamondbacks, who are 7-2 versus the AL this season but did lost two of three at Detroit in late June a season ago. Gibson was serving as bench coach for Arizona in that series before taking over for the fired A.J. Hinch on July 1.
Arizona is also finding its footing on the road, winning 15 of 19 as the guest since a 5-13 road start. That includes a recent three-game sweep at Kansas City, capped with yesterday's 5-3 win.
Juan Miranda and Miguel Montero both connected on solo homers and Chris Young drove in two runs. Daniel Hudson won his third straight start and sixth decision in a row with seven innings of three-run ball and J.J. Putz closed the door in the ninth for his 20th save.
Arizona, which leads San Francisco by a half-game for first place in the NL West, is eight games over .500 (42-34) for the first time since May 27, 2008.
Detroit is also in the midst of a tight division race as it is a game behind Cleveland for first place in the AL Central following Wednesday's 7-5 victory over the Dodgers that salvaged the finale of a three-game series.
The Tigers got their power going early as Casper Wells led off the game with a homer off Dodgers starter Ted Lilly, Don Kelly also went deep and both Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez connected on two-run homers.
"I think that's the first game I have ever led off," said Wells. "Lilly kept a couple pitches up and we capitalized on it today."
Detroit had lost four of five coming into the game and is expected to have Brandon Inge back in the clubhouse today. The third baseman has been on the disabled list since June 2 due to a bout with mononucleosis and was recalled from his minor league rehab assignment on Thursday.
Perhaps Inge will serve as good luck for Tigers starter Phil Coke, who has lost each of his last five decisions since his lone win of the season on April 14, going 10 straight appearances without a victory.
The 28-year-old Coke is 1-7 with a 3.95 ERA this season and has allowed two runs or less in four of his past six starts. After getting a no-decision versus the Rays on June 13 despite 6 1/3 scoreless innings of work, he picked up a loss in Colorado on Saturday after getting charged with four runs on five hits and seven walks over five frames.
"I just didn't quite have the command that I'm known for," said the left- handed Coke, who will make his first start versus Arizona but does own a relief win over the club from the first time he faced them.
Zach Duke will try to keep the D-Backs rolling, but he is 0-2 in four starts since winning his Arizona debut on May 28. Though he has allowed three runs or less in three of his five outings, it wasn't enough to beat the White Sox on Saturday after he was charged with three runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings.
The 28-year-old lefty, who has a 4.66 earned run average over his five starts, has faced the Tigers once before and got a win, yielding three runs over eight innings back in 2009 with the Pirates.