The 26-year-old closer tried to come up with the right words to describe his elation to have been on the mound when the Red Sox made their sweep over the Rockies official, but standing among his champagne-soaked teammates, mobbed by hundreds of cameras, Papelbon looked into the distance, seemingly oblivious to the pandemonium taking place around him.
"I'm totally and absolutely drained," Papelbon said. "I don't think I have one more ounce of energy in me."
Papelbon used his last bits of adrenaline wisely. Faced with protecting a one-run lead and closing out the most important game the Sox have played since this time three years ago, the lights-out closer successfully maintained his composure throughout his perfect ninth frame.
First up was Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who grounded out to second. Dustin Pedroia tossed to Kevin Youkilis, as the first baseman appeared to cradle the ball in his glove with a bit of extra deliberation.
Jamey Carroll then sent a laser to left field, causing a sellout crowd at Coors Field to fall silent. The ball traveled quickly, but it fell inches short of clearing the wall. Jacoby Ellsbury caught it at the warning track for out No. 2.
Papelbon then worked Seth Smith to a 2-2 count before the Rockies' pinch-hitter swung through strike three. As Jason Varitek squeezed the ball, Papelpon threw his cap high in the air and rushed toward his veteran catcher, who leaped into his arms.
Cue the full-squad pile up.
The scene on the field was chaotic, as all World Series clinchers are. Three of the last four Fall Classics have been won on the road, with the lone exception being last year's Cardinals' win in St. Louis. Normally, clinching on the road provides a more subdued celebration in the stands, but considering that approximately 7,000 Red Sox fans rushed to the area behind the visitors' dugout, this celebration had a more jovial feel.
After their clubhouse celebration, slowly, the Boston players filtered back out onto the field. Chants of "Let's Go Red Sox" resonated from the stands, as did a myriad of other cheers, including "Bob-by Kiel-ty," referring to the Red Sox bench player, whose solo homer in the eighth inning turned out to be the difference-maker in Boston's 4-3 win.
A beaming Kielty raised his arms toward the crowd, soaking in a scene that he never could have imagined he'd be a part of back in July, when he was released by Oakland.
"I was down in the cage, swinging a lot," Kielty said, describing how he got ready for his game-winning home run. "Trying to prepare myself and stay as loose as I can. They told me I may have a shot to hit. I figured, if I'm in a World Series, there's no way I'm going down not swinging.
"I decided, I'm swinging at the first pitch, no matter where it's at. I was looking for a fastball and I got a fastball, and I ended up hitting it."
As Kielty was mobbed by reporters, Mike Lowell emerged onto the field to accept his World Series MVP award. Fans chanted "Re-sign Lowell!" to which Josh Beckett turned to the stands and also yelled back, "Yea! Re-sign Lowell!"
Curt Schilling ran back onto the field to chants of "One more year." Schilling held his right index finger up to the crowd, seemingly showing the fans that he agreed with their assessment.
Credit Red Sox fans for being astute, as well. Noticing FOX commentator Joe Girardi giving his postgame commentary to the left of the Red Sox's dugout, the crowd chanted something to the tune of "Yankees stink." Apparently, they believe he's the front-runner for the job in New York to replace Joe Torre.
Throughout the hour-long celebration, fans begged Papelbon to "Dance! Dance! Dance!" But their hopes of watching the closer break out into the Riverdance as he did when the Red Sox won the American League pennant were dashed when Papelpon yelled back, "In Boston! In Boston!"
"I'll be dancing, just not tonight," Papelbon said. "When I get back to Boston, we're going to party hard."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less