PHOENIX -- It's unrealistic to expect one hit to erase the sting and ease the bitter disappointment of the Arizona Diamondbacks' 2021 season, but Josh VanMeter at least sent his teammates into the offseason with something to celebrate.
VanMeter’s two-out home run in the ninth led the D-backs to a walk-off win over the Rockies, 5-4, in the final game of the 2021 season Sunday afternoon at Chase Field.
"That’s awesome," veteran outfielder Kole Calhoun said. "What a cool baseball moment for us, for the fans, for VanMeter. A walk-off homer, bottom of the ninth, last game of the season. Talk about going into the offseason on a high, that’s pretty dang cool. There weren’t enough moments like that this year. It’s pretty cool for us to go home, for the fans to go home, with a pretty good taste in our mouths."
The D-backs had fallen behind 4-0, but managed to battle back with single runs in the fifth and seventh and then scored two in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game.
After the first two batters made outs in the ninth, VanMeter connected with a 98 mph fastball from Carlos Estévez and sent it over the wall in right.
"The two guys before me took pretty big swings to try to end the game, so I thought I'd just try to follow suit," VanMeter said. "Man, what a moment. What a moment, not just personally, but for everybody in that clubhouse."
With the win, the D-backs finished the season 52-110 and narrowly avoided matching the franchise record of 111 losses, set by the 2004 team.
"This was a tough year for sure," Calhoun said. "It's a 52-win season and you know that's unacceptable. It's unacceptable to everybody in that clubhouse, to the fans, to this organization. Just overall there's a lot of things we’ve got to do to get better, for sure. And I think that's going to be the focus on this offseason, and hopefully that motivates a lot of guys to go out and work and continue to challenge themselves to make an impact up here next year."
By virtue of their win and the Orioles' loss to the Blue Jays, the D-backs tied Baltimore for the worst record in baseball.
In order to determine the No. 1 pick in next year's MLB Draft, Major League Baseball's first tiebreaker is which team had a worse record in 2020. The Orioles and D-backs both went 25-35 in 2020 so the second tiebreaker is their 2019 record.
The D-backs were 85-77 in 2019, while the Orioles were 54-108, so the Orioles will pick first in the 2022 MLB Draft and the D-backs second.
"I understand the excitement of picking No. 1," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "But we're not picking No. 1 and it's nothing that I ever wanted to have happen. We were doing everything we possibly could to avoid picking No. 1 and I'm proud to say that we fought all the way to the very end. We scored three or four runs in the last couple of innings to avoid that. The No. 1 pick is definitely nothing that I'm ever wanting to come close to again."