DENVER -- Nolan Arenado stopped and stared, mouth agape.
He can be forgiven for struggling to embrace the moment. He spent his career living with frustration, grinding his teeth over the lack of victories. This spring he told Denver7 this season felt different. Hope was no longer a four-letter word. The Rockies would contend this year, he promised.
But not even Arenado could have predicted this. A manager in Bud Black with a Midas touch. A bullpen with a Ziploc closer. And a team with chemistry that fosters resilience and belief in one another. So when the ball ricocheted loudly off Arenado's bat in the ninth inning, perhaps he should have started his pumping his fist.
Was there any doubt it wasn't clearing the fence?
In his biggest moment to date as a Rockie, Arenado completed the sweep of the San Francisco Giants, his three-run home run finishing off his cycle and delivering a 7-5 walkoff victory.
Just call the Rockies The Legion of Broom. The baseball world suddenly seems upside down, tinted with a purple hue.
The Rockies remain in first place in the National League West, one game ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers. They sit 20 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2009 season when they made their last playoff appearance. That season featured breathtaking wins. The 2017 team can now add goosebumps to its resume.
It wasn't that the the Rockies won. They've been doing that since opening day. It's how they accomplished it. They entered the game 43-0 when leading after the seventh inning. After home runs by Trevor Story and Pat Valaika spoiled former Regis High School star Ty Blach's solid outing, Colorado appeared prepared to ease into the driveway on Father's day.
But setupman Adam Ottavino and closer Greg Holland were not available because of workloads. Holland has been prescribed three days rest after his velocity dropped to 90-to-91 miles per hour in recent outings. It left the Rockies vulnerable. Left-hander Jake McGee, who has rebounded this season with a healthy knee, stumbled. He faced six batters and allowed three runs, including a home run to Hunter Pence.
"But when the guys came back to the dugout, no one was down," manager Bud Black told reporters in his postgame press conference.
It reflects the confidence of this bunch. They arrive at the ballpark believing they will win. Prior to this series, they had zero walkoff hits. They greeted the Giants, who are suffering through their worst season since 1985, with a pair over the past four days.
The ninth began with a groundout by Tony Wolters against former Golden High standout Mark Melancon, whose jersey is displayed at the high school. It took Raimel Tapia to pull at a loose thread and Melancon unraveled. Tapia, who has everyone's attention with his hitting and hair, singled. Charlie Blackmon followed with a shallow fly to center that should have been tracked down, but landed safely to invigorate the rally. DJ LeMahieu fired a groundball to right field, scoring Tapia to shave the deficit to 5-4.
Arenado stepped into the box and walk off into the open arms of history.
"I didn't know what to think," Arenado said of watching the flight of the ball during an on-field postgame interview following the Rockies' eighth cycle. "Thank God (it made it over the fence). What a feeling."