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Schmuck: How one at-bat in Game 3 might've given the Houston Astros the World Series

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing about Cody Bellinger’s 0-for-11 performance in the first three games of the World Series, but none of those fruitless at-bats compared with the one delivered by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ other young star.

Shortstop Corey Seager’s double-play groundout in the third inning stifled a budding Dodgers rally and might’ve cost them Game 3.

Could happen to anybody, right?

Well, maybe, but Seager took a particularly ill-advised approach at the plate after the Houston Astros scored four runs in the second inning and Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. walked the first three Dodgers in the top of the third.

McCullers was close to coming out of the game and putting a big strain on the Astros bullpen. He clearly had careened out of control and threw a ball on his first pitch to Seager.

It was at this point that broadcaster Joe Buck and analyst John Smoltz prophetically opined that Seager might be just the right guy to let McCullers get back on track because he is such an aggressive hitter.

Sure enough, Seager swung at a knuckle curve in the dirt on the next pitch, then bounced a borderline knuckle curve to the right side for a rally-killing double play.

I know I harp a lot on plate discipline and situational hitting, and who wouldn’t after watching the Orioles unapologetically bail out struggling pitchers because they want to “stay aggressive.”

Seager is 23 years old and he has had a lot of success in his first two full seasons in the majors. He’s probably just young enough to think he was going to tie the score with one swing, but he has to take the first strike in that situation.

If he does, he’s up 2-0 on the count and McCullers might not be able to afford to flirt with the lower outside corner and risk falling behind 3-0 with the bases loaded.

Instead, Seager lunges at a pitchers’ pitch from a pitcher who is just about to walk himself out of the game and wastes an opportunity for the Dodgers to create a huge momentum swing. They got a run on the double play, but that was all. McCullers settled down and the Astros held on to take a 2-1 lead in the Series.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

twitter.com/SchmuckStop

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