Early last month, long before the Diamondbacks closed in on the National League West title, manager Bob Melvin was asked if one of his struggling players -- Stephen Drew -- could rebound in a big way by having a clean slate if the club made it to the postseason.
Melvin's answer: Absolutely.
And after hitting just .238 during the regular season, the young shortstop has been sizzling hot in the playoffs, hitting .500 with two home runs and four RBIs in helping the Diamondbacks sweep the Chicago Cubs in three games to win their National League Division Series.
Drew went 3-for-5 with a homer in Game 3 and helped the Diamondbacks turn four double plays in support of pitcher Livan Hernandez.
"That's the type of player he is," Melvin said of Drew after Saturday's series-clinching victory at Wrigley Field. "He just went through a very frustrating season, but every time he takes the field, we think good things are going to happen.
"He's going to be better for going through seasons like this. What you saw in this series is what you're going to see out of Stephen Drew -- hitting, great defense, baserunning. This guy can do it all." Cubs manager Lou Piniella heaped some praise on Drew after the Cubs were knocked out.
"What a job he did," Piniella said. "He made some great plays, he hit some home runs. He was pretty impressive."
DIAMONDBACKS 5, CUBS 1: Rookie center fielder Chris Young hit his second home run in the series, shortstop Stephen Drew added his second to continue his hot-hitting ways and starting pitcher Livan Hernandez leaned heavily on the defense behind him as the Diamondbacks swept the Cubs to win their National League Division Series.
The Diamondbacks turned four double plays in Game 3 on Saturday at Wrigley Field to help bail out Hernandez, who allowed one run with five hits and five walks in six innings. Arizona's bullpen finished things off with three scoreless innings, giving the relievers 8 1/3 scoreless innings in the series.
Hernandez never showed any frustration or concern despite constantly finding himself in jams. That's one reason why manager Bob Melvin wanted to use Hernandez in Game 3 on the road, because of the veteran's demeanor.
"He's been through it," Melvin said. "He's got that calm presence about him that nothing really bothers him."
Still, it was a tenuous tightrope Hernandez walked.
"They had runners on base every inning. We got lucky and got out with some double-play situations," Young said.
Young began the game with a leadoff homer by sending the first pitch from Cubs starter Rich Hill into the left-field bleachers. Justin Upton added an RBI single in the inning. Eric Byrnes and Drew also homered for the Diamondbacks, who won their second NLDS -- the last one coming in 2001 when they won the World Series.
Drew went 3-for-5 in Game 3 and hit .500 in the series.
--RHP Jose Valverde, who led the majors with 47 saves, earned one save in the NL Division Series and came on in Games 2 and 3 to close things out against the Chicago Cubs. Valverde's on-mound temperament can sometimes incite opposing teams. Cubs broadcaster Ron Santo referred to Valverde as a hot dog.
"He's emotional. You see that out of a lot of closers," manager Bob Melvin said. "... He's not trying to show anybody up. He's just an emotional guy."
--UT Jeff Cirillo made his first postseason appearance after 1,617 regular-season games when he flew out to right field as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning during Saturday's series-clinching Game 3 at Wrigley Field.
--2B Augie Ojeda, who spent four seasons with the Cubs, on returning to Wrigley Field: "You know, the fans kind of took me under their wing. It's a special feeling for me coming back."
--LF Eric Byrnes after the Diamondbacks' three-game sweep of the Cubs: "Who would have thought that at the beginning of spring training or the season? I'm sure there were a lot of people thinking maybe .500 baseball. We have guys who are ready to win. We've already exceeded expectations so far, and we're going to continue to do so."
--Arizona pitching held the Cubs' top three hitters, Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, to a .158 combined batting average with no extra-base hits, no RBI and one run scored.
--Manager Bob Melvin made sure he credited the club's young players for helping the Diamondbacks get to where they are and said they were the difference in Arizona's Division Series sweep of the Cubs.
"We have our veteran leaders, but the young guys have taken us to where we've gotten," he said. "We can't rely on three or four guys to shoulder the load. We've got to get it from multiple guys every day, and our younger guys showed up big. ... Day to day, they've grown as players and they've gained a lot of experience in a short period of time."
BY THE NUMBERS: 27 -- Runners left on base by the Cubs in getting swept by the Diamondbacks in their National League Division Series.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was our confidence in the second half, after we went 21-5 at one point there and had those three walk-off wins in a row. We just had a better feeling about ourselves as a group, and once we got into August and September, we really felt we had a chance." -- Manager Bob Melvin after the Diamondbacks swept the Cubs to advance to the NLCS.
ANALYZING THE LINEUP:
1. CF Chris Young
2. SS Stephen Drew
3. LF Eric Byrnes
4. 1B Conor Jackson
5. 3B Mark Reynolds
6. RF Justin Upton
7. 2B Augie Ojeda
8. C Miguel Montero
Comment: With Drew hitting so well in the Division Series, the Diamondbacks' lineup was far more potent. The team with the worst batting average in the league during the season scored 16 runs in the three NLDS games.
ANALYZING THE ROTATION:
1. RHP Brandon Webb
2. LHP Doug Davis
3. RHP Livan Hernandez
4. RHP Micah Owings
Comment: Hernandez pitched his usual game -- he was in constant trouble but wriggled out of it by inducing four double plays. Arizona's starting pitching behind Webb doesn't look that strong on paper, but it was excellent throughout the Division Series.
ANALYZING THE BULLPEN:
RH closer Jose Valverde
RHP Brandon Lyon
RHP Tony Pena Jr.
RHP Juan Cruz
Comment: Diamondbacks relievers didn't allow a run in the Division Series, covering 8 1/3 innings, to back up three strong performances by the starting pitchers.
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