PHOENIX — Five months ago, The Diamondbacks’ walkoff celebration was a simple mixture of dirt and water.
As the walkoffs grew, so did the brew.
Thus, Willie Bloomquist found himself lathered in a combination bananas, bubble gum, water, dirt, Gatorade and whatever else D-backs’ players could carry to the field to greet him after his one-out single in the 10th inning gave the D-backs a 4-3 victory over Toronto on Wednesday afternoon to avoid a sweep.
The D-backs have 16 extra-inning victories and 13 walk-offs, numbers that have given ringleader Martin Prado and his merry pranksters plenty of time to revise the victory shower.
Bananas? They sit on a shelf in the D-backs’ dugout in case players need a shot of potassium to avoid cramping.
“I think, literally, when that happens, everyone just grabs whatever they can,” said Adam Eaton, who part of the celebration after scoring the winning run.
“I was holding on to Willie and I had banana falling on me and I’m like, ‘What in the world is going on?’ You are going to come in here and shower anyway, so whatever they can throw on you is what they are going to do. It’s fun in the clubhouse. We are getting used to these walk-off things. We have so much practice we have to come up with stupid ways to celebrate.”
If Bloomquist did not appear to appreciate the combination of water, dirt and chunks of banana running down the back of his neck as he left the field … well, that was just mis-perception.
“I was enjoying it internally,” Bloomquist said. “They have taken the walkoff celebration to a whole new level. I will be pulling dirt out of my hair probably from now until the end of the season. It’s all in good fun. It’s worth it, definitely. I’d take it every day if that was the result.”
Manager Kirk Gibson had some fun with it.
“I don’t think Bloomquist liked it, but he’s usually miserable, anyway,” Gibson said. “We’re like, ‘C’mon, Willie, get dirty.’ It’s a meek sacrifice to get the game-winner in my mind. It’s a minimal sacrifice. It’s certainly original, isn’t it?”
The D-backs (70-68) overcame a 3-0 deficit — their 39th comeback victory of the season — and avoided dropping to .500 for the first time since the second game of the season with another nice start from Randall Delgado, strong bullpen work and more clutch hitting in the late going.
“That’s what we do,” Brad Ziegler said.
The D-backs’ playoff chances grow a little dimmer every time Cincinnati or Washington win, but they find themselves focused on the events of the day and what they can control.
Eric Chavez tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning and started the game-winning rally with a one-out single off left-hander Luis Perez in the 10th. Chavez hit a slider to center field, the same pitch Perez used to strike out Miguel Montero to end the eighth inning and Gerardo Parra to start the ninth.
After A.J. Pollock singled pinch-runner Eaton to third base and Pollock took second on defensive indifference, Bloomquist faced Jeremy Jeffress and his 100-mph fastball. Bloomquist swung through a 1-1 fastball, shortened his swing, then lined the game-winner to center field.
“Obviously we’d like to get it done in nine, but if it takes longer it takes longer,” Bloomquist said. “As long as we come out on top, that’s the important thing.”
Bloomquist has 12 hits in 21 at-bats since coming off the disabled list Wednesday, although it has been hard for him to get regular time with the D-backs’ logjam at shortstop.
“I was with ‘Bloomy’ in K.C., and the guy’s just a winner,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “If you’re going to win, you need guys like him. He can play anywhere, he’ll get after you, he’ll do anything to win.”
Delgado gave up three runs in the first inning but only an infield single in six innings after that for his 10th quality start in 15 outings. He has pitched well since joining the team as an injury replacement in June and certainly has pitched his way into the rotation plans for 2014. He added more curve balls to his usual fastball/changeup repertoire to keep the Blue Jays off balance.
“I just try to keep concentrating, keep working, keep fighting, you know. I think it worked today, too,” Delgado said.