Giants look to bolster rotation with Penny

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It’s worked out well for the Cardinals, so now the Giants will try to give their rotation a boost by picking up one of Boston’s castoffs. In this case, it’s Brad Penny, who went 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in his first and possibly last stint in the American League.
Penny’s lack of success wasn’t velocity related. According to Baseball Info Solutions data, he’s averaging 94.0 mph with his fastball, tying him with Felix Hernandez for the eighth-best mark in baseball. The problem is that he couldn’t come up with a second pitch to keep hitters even a little off balance. His usually reliable curveball let him down in a huge way against American League hitters, forcing him to try a slider occasionally of late. That seemed to be working better for him, though he still gave up eight runs to the Yankees in his final start with the team.
Odds are that things will go a whole lot better for Penny back in the NL. He’s more familiar with the hitters, and he should get more defensive support from the Giants than he was from the Red Sox. He’s not going to dominate unless he rediscovers his curve, but he should be a big upgrade from Joe Martinez in the fifth spot in San Francisco’s rotation. He’ll also have a month to see if he can unseat Jonathan Sanchez from the postseason rotation should the Giants claim the wild card or the NL West.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.