Aramis Ramirez opts out, so Pablo Sandoval is an All-Star

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Manager Bruce Bochy will get to call on another Giant.

Aramis Ramirez would have been the choice to take Placido Polanco’s spot on the NL All-Star team, but he’s following through with his plans to go home to visit family in the Dominican Republic.  As a result, Pablo Sandoval will go to his first All-Star Game.

There was a groundswell to make Sandoval an All-Star back when he was on his way to hitting .330 with 25 homers in his first full season in 2009, but there was no room on the roster for him then, and Sandoval was such a disappointment in 2010 that the Giants threatened to send him back to the minors to begin this season if he didn’t get into better shape.

Sandoval, though, did drop some weight, and he’s excelled when healthy during a 2011 season interrupted by a broken hamate bone.  He’s hit .305/.345/.505 with eight homers in 190 at-bats, and he carried a 20-game hitting streak into Sunday’s action.

Sandoval will be the lone Giants positions player on the NL roster, but he will have plenty of teammates to hang out with; Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and closer Brian Wilson were all originally picked for the squad last week.

4:45 p.m. EDT: And, apparently, I’m still wrong.  Sandoval is going to the All-Star Game, but he’ll be the replacement for Jose Reyes.  We still don’t know who is taking Polanco’s spot.  Presumably, it will be a shortstop (Stephen Drew?).

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.