Heyward, Hanson impress as spring play begins

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The Mets started off the Grapefruit League schedule with a 4-2 win, but it was the young Braves that stole the show Tuesday in the first game of the spring season. Tommy Hanson started and struck out three in two scoreless innings for Atlanta, while Jason Heyward, batting third and playing right field, walked twice and delivered a hard single through the right side of the infield in his three plate appearances.
Some notes from the game:
– The Mets scratched David Wright, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur and Luis Castillo from the starting lineup because of a rain shower that ended about an hour and a half before the game started. If that’s acting a little gun shy, well, it’s rather hard to blame them.
– Of course, the Mets did suffer the first injury in an exhibition game anyway. Elmer Dessens, the team’s second pitcher in, limped off the field in the third after taking a comebacker off his leg.
– In addition to reaching all three times up, Heyward had a steal of third base and an advancement to second on a wild pitch that he got a very good read on. The 20-year-old doesn’t need to hit 450-foot homers in order to impress.
– Kris Medlen, who was terrific in middle relief during the second half of last season, followed Hanson in the third and also pitched two scoreless innings. He may not get any starts this spring, but the Braves will want to keep him rather stretched out in case Jair Jurrjens has a setback or another starter goes down.
– Mets non-roster invite Russ Adams had the first homer of the spring, a solo shot off Chris Resop in the eighth that concluded the scoring for the day.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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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.