Cody Bellinger picked the worst time to slump for the Dodgers

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Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger‘s struggles continued on Friday night in Game 3 of the World Series, as the presumptive National League Rookie of the Year Award winner went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. He’s now 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts in the World Series.

Most of Bellinger’s at-bats weren’t even competitive. He went down on two called strikes and a swinging strike three — all curve balls from Lance McCullers — in the second inning. In the fourth, he took a first-pitch fastball, a curve for a ball, fouled off a curve, then struck out swinging on a curve. In the sixth, he swung and missed at a curve, fouled off a curve, then whiffed again on a curve for another three-pitch strikeout against McCullers. At least in the eighth, he saw more than a smattering of pitches, ultimately whiffing on the eighth consecutive fastball he saw from reliever Brad Peacock.

Bellinger strikes out a lot. It’s part of the give-and-take with being a power hitter. His 26.6 percent strikeout rate was 16th highest among qualified hitters during the regular season. He was the leadoff batter in an inning three times in Game 2 and twice more in Game 3. Working a walk, putting the ball in play — heck, even just working a deep count more than once in 11 plate appearances would be beneficial, even if it means shortening his swing a bit. Both the approach and the results have been horrendous thus far.

Bellinger didn’t set the world on fire in the NLDS or NLCS, but he was still productive, batting an aggregate .278/.316/.500 with a pair of doubles and a pair of home runs with two walks and 12 strikeouts in 38 plate appearances. That’s a bit below what he produced in the regular season — he slashed .267/.352/.581 — but the Dodgers would happily take that version of Bellinger over the one they’ve seen thus far.

The Astros lead the World Series two games to one with two more home games remaining. If the Dodgers want to send this series back to Los Angeles, Bellinger needs to wake up.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

albert pujols
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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).