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NLDS: Snakes Alive
On paper, the Cubs seem like heavy favorites in this series. But the Diamondbacks took the opening game by employing a simple recipe that has brought them success all season long...
Start with a healthy dose of Brandon Webb. Arizona got exactly what it needed from the reigning NL Cy Young winner (and most likely the 2007 runner-up). In his first postseason start, Webb overwhelmed the North Siders with dizzying array of sinkers, curveballs and changeups. The 28-year-old completely baffled the meat of the order, as Chicago's 1-5 hitters combined to go 1-for-24 with eight strikeouts (sound a little familiar, Phils fans?). Webb actually allowed a fair number of baserunners, but the eternally-composed hurler calmly worked through every jam. The Cubs set a club record with 45 homers in September, but they continually beat Webb's nose-diving sinker into the ground...when they made contact at all.
Sprinkle in some Baby 'Backs offense. Entering the postseason, Arizona's offense was a subject of great ridicule; many folks deemed it to be the most underwhelming playoff lineup in recent memory. But as they've done all year long, the Diamondbacks scraped out just enough offensive production (three runs on six hits) to win. As usual, youth played a huge part; Arizona's three RBIs came from two 24-year-olds (Stephen Drew and Mark Reynolds) and a 25-year-old (Conor Jackson).
Add a touch of Brandon Lyon. Lyon may be the most underappreciated player on this team. Arizona's trusty setup man led the majors with 35 holds during the regular season. Wednesday night, Lyon earned the first postseason hold of his career by pitching a perfect eighth inning.
And top it off with some spicy Valverde. As usual, Papa Grande wore his emotions on his sleeve Wednesday night. And as usual, the fiery closer put the finishing touches on a D-backs' win. (Valverde led the bigs with 47 saves in the regular season.) Not even that light-flashing lunatic behind home plate could distract the hulking 28-year-old hurler.
This was the Diamondbacks in a nutshell. As Jackson told the East Valley Tribune, "This is how we roll."
posted by SI.com | View comments |
This author should have done his homework... I have been to plenty of D-backs/Cubs games through the years and have seen Cubs fans really take over the BOB/Chase. Last night was different. Yes, plenty of Chicago fans were there. But the crowd realistically was probably 80/20 Arizona fans. Sure, the Cubs fans made some noise. That's what drunk people do. (Several were so falling-down drunk in my section the Maricopa County Sheriff had to arrest them... Too bad they'll miss game 2 while they are in Tent City.) In short, the much maligned Arizona fans showed up in game 1. We have put up with Cub fans taking over our building for years and finally Phoenix showed they have had enough. Of course if the author had actually satyed up to watch the game (aw, poor sleepy East coasters...) he would have known better than to rely on one off-handed comment in an mlb.com article. (Is that even a legitimate press outlet... Of course the MLB is rooting for the Cubs to go deep in Oct. to boost TV ratings.)
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