Kirk Gibson walked into the interview room to face a smallish crowd of buzzing media. No one could have sat through that game and not be buzzing. The question, what exactly was the buzz?
Sensing the mood in the room, Gibby started with a chuckle and asked, "How's everybody feeling?"
The room chuckled back, asking the guy at the podium in front of the cameras and microphones how he feels.
"It wasn't easy, that's for sure."
Talk about an understatement. But I guess when you've played in and see as many baseball games as Kirk Gibson, it was just another in a series of wacky baseball endings. For the rest of us, it was a roller coaster of a nightmare ended by a wakeup call delivered via sweet kiss.
It went something like this.
Innings one through four rolled nicely along. Starter Ian Kennedy gave up a run in the third after his leadoff walk got sac-bunted over and then driven in with a single. Classic small ball.
The Diamondback answered right back with a single followed by a Kelly Johnson home run.
Things started to go off the rails in the Diamondbacks fifth inning with the Diamondbacks now leading 3-2. The Rockies brought in Esmil Rogers out of their pen.
It wasn't that he gave up four runs off two walks and three hits. It was how incredibly long Rogers took between each pitch. Here's the extemporaneous Tweet:
Twitter / Seth Pollack: ...
Eff U, Esmil Rogers. You deserve to get rocked just for pitching so damn slow. Dbacks ending Rockies postseason hopes - up 7-2
Not so fast -- the Diamondbacks bullpen still had plenty left to say about this game.
So, after the 45-minute-long Rogers inning, the Diamondbacks got a full scoreless inning from D.J. Carrasco and pushed across one more run taking us to the seventh with an 8-2 lead.
The sweep was on, baby!
But not so fast. Esmerling Vasquez wanted to make sure his new GM, Kevin Towers, would remember his name. Three walks followed by a Carlos Gonzalez grand slam (hit off Blaine Boyer) and you can be sure that Towers was impressed.
Impressed in the same way a cow's hide is permanently marked after being seared by a hot branding iron.
Twitter / Seth Pollack:
And of course the 3 walks Vasquez gave up get plated by a Gonzalez grand slam. Now 8-6 Dbacks. #BUUUUUUULLPEEEEEEEEEEN
Now 8-6, the D-backs get one good inning from Aaron Heilman -- a mirage it turned out -- and pushed across two more runs to take a comfortable four-run lead into the ninth.
Oh, that ninth inning.
Heilman, fresh off a three-up, three-down eighth, immediately walks the first two batters he faces. Gibby, having seen this movie a few (too many) times before, quickly yanks him for the team's new closer, Juan Gutierrez.
Guti has pitched really well lately, but tonight he could only be what he is, a Diamondback reliever and that meant drama time.
First batter grounds into a 4-3 fielder's choice. One out, looking good.
Then Guti walks the next guy he faces (if you are counting, this is now six walks in two-plus innings). Bases loaded, one out, Carlos Gonzalez at the plate with yet another chance to put four runs on the board and tie the game. But he only manages a single off the D-backs' best reliever, making it a 10-8 game with runners on the corners and one out.
Up comes the game's hottest hitter, Troy Tulowitzki, with a chance to take the lead. He comes pretty darn close to doing just that on a deep drive to left that's just foul of the big yellow pole. He ends up with a ground out that plates the third run of the inning.
Two outs, runner on first, so of course Gutierrez only has once choice: walk the next man.
Melvin Mora is now up with two outs and a 10-9 D-backs lead. He hooks a ball just about a foot outside the foul line before working the count all the way to 3-2.
At this point, the remaining crowd -- who wasn't convinced that a four-run, ninth inning lead was safe -- is sarcastically cheering each strike and openly booing each ball. It was a great display by the Arizona fans. Bravo.
With the count full and two outs the closer-by-default strikes out Mora.
Holy Mother Of God, He Did It
That's seven runs given up by the bullpen on just two hits.
A sweep over the division rival Rockies, who said before the game that this was a "must win" for their playoff hopes, should be satisfying, but there's no way you could have suffered through that painful end and come away feeling fulfilled.
Thankfully, this painful Diamondbacks season is almost over.