Despite the Diamondbacks' win on Friday night, the feeling in the clubhouse after the game felt glum. Usually wins are always a cause for celebration, but when the team that you are trying to catch wins as well, eliminating you from postseason play, that good feeling is superseded.
Although the chances of the Diamondbacks reaching the playoffs this season have seemed slimmed for quite some time, it became a reality on Friday, one that manager Kirk Gibson did not like.
"The best teams are going to go to the playoffs, I have no problem saying that. We weren't good enough to be one of those teams this year. It wasn't from a lack of effort; you can dissect it a million different ways. It didn't work out the way we wanted it to. I think we did it the right way, but we weren't good enough. They were better than us."
The team noticed about half way through the game that the St. Louis Cardinals, the team that the Diamondbacks were trying to catch for the second Wild Card spot, had beaten the Nationals, 12-2. Still, that did not deter the D-Backs, nor will it as the season continues on for five more games.
"We are going to keep trying to win as many games as we can," Gibson said. "That's the way you are supposed to do it. That's the way the game is supposed to be played. There are people here watching us and you have to have a push to see how good you were this year. It's not 'you're eliminated so now you throw it in'."
Justin Upton seemed to mirror his manager's sentiments when I talked to him after the game.
"You don't go out there and ever give up or roll over. We're not going to roll over even in the next five games. We know that we're done on Wednesday, but you go out there and play the game right every time.
"You play the game until the end of the season... We knew that we were a good team all year long, we're a talented team. We just never put it together and sometimes that happens... We never put together that really strong run, sometimes that happens," Upton said.
Friday night's pitcher, Ian Kennedy, despite knowing the team has been a "slim chance" to make the postseason, continues to give it his all. Instead of asking to be shut down for the rest of the season with a flu strain that he caught while in Colorado facing the Rockies, Kennedy came out and threw 104 pitches tonight (his fourth consecutive game with at least 100 pitches) and is scheduled to start once more to end the season.
"It's really important," Kennedy said when asked about the importance of ending the year strong. "You just want to finish off with a good note. Whether you're fighting to make a playoff spot, whether you're not... I know that finishing strong was really important going into the last Spring Training."
The Diamondbacks are going to continue to battle, even if it's all for nothing. Sure, it pads the record books and it appeases the fans, but that's not why they do it. They are going to keep playing hard because that is what their manager has instilled in them. That is the way you play the game.