Albert Pujols has a bum hamstring

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Last night we saw Albert Pujols walk off the field a tad gimpy after running out a grounder and subsequently leave the game early. Now we know what we had previously only suspected: he has a hamstring strain.

It’s being termed “mild,” so that’s good, but either way the Cardinals would be wise to let him sit for the upcoming series against the Astros. Sure, he’s essential, but unlike in past years, Tony La Russa has a plausible if only temporary replacement for Pujols at first base in Lance Berkman.

It looks like it will be a long and tough fight in the NL Central this year. Better to have the big guy healthy later even if it means resting him up now.

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.