Taming the Friendly Confines

The pitching match-up for game 3 of the National League Divisional Series definitely favored the Chicago Cubs. It’s not that I had no confidence in Livan Hernandez. No wait, it is that I had no confidence in Livan Hernandez. Livan Hernandez is like the Diamondbacks personal Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You never quite know what you are going to get from a Livo outing on the mound. Will it be the guy who was the most valuable player from the 1997 Florida Marlins World Series team or will it be the guy that couldn’t find the strike zone with a GPS? Lately it has been more of the latter than the former and that scared me just a little. My theory was that the Diamondbacks would need to score early and score often if they hoped to have any chance at winning this game.

As Rich Hill and the Chicago Cubs were warming up prior to the game I turned to my son Dakota and said, “What we need is for Chris Young to hit the first pitch out of the ballpark just to quiet the Cubs fans and stake Livan Hernandez a lead.” Dakota nodded his agreement as Chris Young entered the batter’s box. The first pitch was a fastball from Rich Hill and Young planted it in the left field bleachers. As he rounded the bleachers Dakota and I both turned to look at each other. Our mouths hung open in a stunned expression. In unison we both said, “Did you just see that?” Before we could finish that sentence Stephen Drew rifled a shot in the gap for a double. It was hard to tell who was more stunned, us watching television or the crowds in the stands at Wrigley Field. From that point on the Arizona Diamondbacks played like a team on a mission. They made outstanding plays in the field and got timely hits from both their youngsters and the veterans. In typical Livan Hernandez fashion it seemed like every inning the Cubs had runners on base threatening to score. It felt as if any pitch could erase the Diamondbacks lead and put momentum on the Cubs side. Just as the knot in your stomach began to enlarge threatening to explode; Livan would get one of the Chicago players to hit into a double play ending their rally. By the time that Livan Hernandez left the game Arizona was up by a score of 4-1. The Diamondbacks bullpen continued to dominate throwing three innings of shut-out baseball allowing only 2 hits. The ninth inning somewhat epitomized the way this whole series went for the Diamondbacks. Stephen Drew hit a home run to make the score 5-1. The hit was Drew’s third of the night and his seventh for the series. He hit .500 in the three games with the Cubs including 2 home runs, a triple, a double, and 3 singles. Besides his offensive numbers Drew also made several spectacular defensive plays including being involved in 3 double plays in game 3. In the end it was the Cubs fans who were mostly quiet except for the booing that was directed at Cubs players who continued to struggle at the plate. The Diamondbacks were the first National League team to make the post season and now they are the first team to advance to the National League Championship Series. It will be the first time they have been there since that magical 2001 season. The young players who were supposed to dissolve under pressure and quake in the midst of the Cubbies den were instead dancing on the infield leaving Cubs fans to drop their heads and utter the same phrase they have for the last 99 years, “Wait until next year.”

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