After 11 years and 910 games, it took extra innings for Cameron Maybin to play in his first World Series game.
The former first-round draft pick out of Asheville’s Roberson High School joined the Houston Astros on Aug. 31, just before the deadline for postseason eligibility. The last-minute move gave him his first taste of the postseason. He appeared as a late-game replacement in two Division Series games, then got one start in the ALCS. Maybin then watched the first 19 innings of the World Series from the dugout.
“It’s a lot of anxiety, sitting there, patiently, waiting, trying to cheer everybody on,” Maybin said.
Finally, in the bottom of the 10th, Maybin was put into the marathon Game 2 as part of a double switch. He led off the 11th inning with a single and, on the second pitch of the next at bat, stole second base.
“That’s my job,” he said, “to provide a spark. I had the opportunity to do that, and it turned out to be big. Whenever I get on base, good things happen.”
This time, it was an even better thing than he expected. Maybin’s steal won free tacos for the entire country, as part of a promotion by Taco Bell. The giveaway is scheduled for this afternoon.
Maybin embraced his newfound fame, dubbing himself America’s #StealaBaseStealaTaco guy on Twitter.
Maybin is just one of three North Carolina products at the center of this year’s epic Fall Classic between the Astros and Dodgers.
Corey Seager has been one of the key players for the Dodgers. The Charlotte native and graduate of Northwest Cabarrus High has earned two All-Star Game appearances in his two full years in MLB, winning the National League Rookie of the Year last season.
The Dodgers had to make the World Series without him, however.
As the Dodgers completed their three-game sweep of Arizona in the Divisional Series, Seager slid into second base safely on a ground ball in the first inning of Game 3.
“It was a very normal slide,” Seager said. “I watched it over and over again to see if I landed awkward, hit awkward. I mean, it was extremely normal. I felt it on the slide right away. Really wasn’t kind of sure what it was.”
Seager “put a bunch of hot stuff on it” to make it through the game, but it didn’t improve over the next few days. That left him and the Dodgers with a very tough decision: He sat out the League Championship Series against the Cubs to get rest and treatment. He didn’t even travel with the team, to avoid aggravating the injury on a cross-country flight.
“Yeah, this sucks, to be honest,” he said as the LCS opened. “Obviously you try to be the best teammate that you can right now, try to not be a distraction. Try to be as positive and inspirational, whatever you want to say, to help your team right now.”
The Dodgers got past the Cubs, and Seager was added back to the roster for the World Series.
“It was hard,” he said. “You wish you could’ve been there with your team, wish you could’ve celebrated with them and been a part of it. But it was the right move to stay behind.”
The Dodgers are glad to have him back. He had two hits in the Game 1 win over Houston, then hit a dramatic go-ahead home run in Game 2. He’s hit in four of the first five World Series games and scored in the game where he was held hitless.
“He really didn’t miss a beat in the batter’s box,” manager Dave Roberts said.
The Dodgers have another Charlotte product on the roster: Alex Wood, a product of Ardry Kell High School, started Game 4. Wood also got a start against the Cubs in the LCS.
“I feel fortunate that I’m finally getting to start in the postseason,” he said. “My three previous postseason experiences (with Atlanta in 2013 and the Dodgers in 2015 and 2016) have all been out of the bullpen.”
Wood didn’t get a win in either game, but that hasn’t dimmed his enjoyment of the trip to the Series.
“I think the biggest thing for me is just trying to kind of let it all sink in and enjoy the moment,” he said. “I think a lot of people get caught up, and it goes by so fast and you turn back, and you’re like, wow, what happened?”
And, like his newly healthy teammate and the taco hero in the other dugout, he’s representing his home state.