Dodgers surprisingly tab Padilla for Opening Day

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers will soon name Vicente Padilla their Opening Day starter, which is a surprise to say the least given that the rotation also includes young studs Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.
Padilla went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA down the stretch for the Dodgers last season, but before that he was released by the Rangers after posting a 4.92 ERA in 147 innings. Even with his nice late-season run in Los Angeles included Padilla hasn’t had an ERA below 4.40 since way back in 2003, when he was a 25-year-old with the Phillies.
For comparison the 22-year-old Kershaw has a 3.36 ERA and 285 strikeouts in 279 career innings, while the 25-year-old Billingsley has a 3.55 ERA and 580 strikeouts in 634 career innings. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter, since everyone in the rotation will start 32-34 games if they remain healthy, but this sure seems like rewarding a mediocre veteran just for being a mediocre veteran.
Hiroki Kuroda is locked in as the Dodgers’ fourth starter, but the final rotation spot hasn’t been decided yet as Ramon Ortiz, Eric Stults, Russ Ortiz, Carlos Monasterios, and Charlie Haeger all battle for the gig. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers are “shopping” Stults, however, which would seemingly indicate that he’s a long shot.

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.