Jason Heyward gets benched on 22nd birthday

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Even though the Braves are facing a right-hander in the Marlins’ Clay Hensley tonight, Jason Heyward is riding the pine in favor of the Braves’ newest sparkplug, Jose Constanza.  It’s the second straight day on the bench for the 2010 All-Star, who is celebrating his 22nd birthday.  He’s sitting even though he homered and walked in three plate appearances Sunday.

Constanza, a modern day Bo Hart, is 16-for-38 since debuting on July 29.  He even homered Sunday against the Mets.  He has two homers in 371 at-bats between Triple-A and the majors this season, matching his high total in seven seasons as a pro.

As much of a disappointment as Heyward has been this season, he’s still hitting .244/.339/.440 against right-handed pitchers.  It’s hard to blame the Braves for wanting to keep Constanza in there when he’s on fire, but there’s a good argument for using Heyward over Martin Prado against a righty.  Prado is hitting .265/.300/.412 versus right-handers, and the Braves are better defensively with Constanza in left and Heyward in right than with Prado in left and Constanza in right.

But Prado, even though he’s struggled moreso than Heyward since coming off the DL, is the established player and Heyward is still young and proving himself, at least in manager Fredi Gonzalez’s eyes.  We’ll see how it plays out for the Braves, who have won four out of five games after a shaky start to the second half.

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.