D-backs stage Chicago celebration
Arizona's youngsters prove up to the task in sweep
CHICAGO -- This was not completely unexpected, otherwise there wouldn't have been a small box stashed outside the Diamondbacks' cramped clubhouse Saturday that contained, of all things, swimming goggles.
A team that plans on blowing all of a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five National League Division Series does not pack swimming goggles by chance. No, the Arizona Diamondbacks fully intended to put the goggles to use at Wrigley Field.
Just call it the look of a champion, albeit a strange one, though that's probably par for the course at this point for the little team that could.
The Diamondbacks broke out the goggles, the champagne, beer and about any liquid they could get their hands on after putting the finishing touches on a sweep of the Cubs, punctuated by a 5-1 victory on Saturday before a stunned crowd of 42,157.
And, by in large, it probably shocked the Cubs as well, a team that many pegged to treat the Diamondbacks like a speed bump on the way to the National League Championship Series.
The Cubs had a roster brimming with postseason experience. The Diamondbacks were comprised of mostly younger players, barely old enough to drink the bubbly they poured over each other following the game.
Critics said the Diamondbacks' offense didn't stand a chance against the Cubs, and that they would essentially wilt in critical moments, especially Saturday in front of a sold-out and raucous Wrigley Field.
But in the end, Arizona simply played better.
"They knew we were a good team ... we won 90 games," said Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes, who had a home run in Game 3 and drove in two runs. "I don't blame them for being confident. Look at their roster ... they've got a great team. It wasn't their best three days."
It certainly was for the Diamondbacks, who took turns spraying one another with bottles of champagne. No one was spared from the dousing, not manager Bob Melvin, not front office staff and certainly not the closer, Jose Valverde, who bore the bunt of a beer-filled garbage can on his head while conducting an interview.
Really, by the end of the night, the room resembled Delta House in Animal House after the Roman Toga Party rather than a clubhouse.
"Everyone, the media always picks the favorites based on who has the highest salaries and the teams that are supposed to win," said Arizona reliever Brandon Lyon, peering though goggles. "But this team just battles every day -- we found a way, that's what we did all year."
Really, the formula for Saturday's victory was no different than any other game that the Diamondbacks played this season -- solid pitching, front to back, and timely hitting.
If it wasn't Chris Young and Byrnes hitting home runs on Saturday, then it was pitcher Livan Hernandez working himself out of sticky situation after sticky situation, followed by a stingy bullpen that didn't allow a run in the series.
That it was the Diamondbacks and not the Cubs who were celebrating long into the night shouldn't have come as any surprise.
"We came through and swept the Cubs, but that's not your plan. You don't come and plan on sweeping any team," Young said. "You win the series any way you can and try to find a way to deal with the celebration afterwards."
With or without goggles.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.