Twins begin minor-league shakeup by firing Triple-A manager

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Triple-A coaching changes aren’t normally post-worthy, but in this case it may signal the beginning of a much bigger shakeup for the Twins.

Minnesota has had a disastrous season at nearly every level of the organization and the front office has been dropping hints about sweeping changes in the minors. Today the first moves were made, as the Twins fired Triple-A manager Tom Nieto and hitting coach Floyd Rayford.

Nieto managed Rochester to back-to-back 90-loss seasons for the first time since 1903 and 1904, and the Twins haven’t been shy about placing blame on the minor-league coaching staff for not preparing young players for the majors. It would also help if those young players were simply better, as most of the Twins’ call-ups from April through August were marginal prospects at best, but that doesn’t preclude the Triple-A coaches from having done a poor job as well.

Twins director of minor league operations Jim Rantz issued a statement saying that firing Nieto and Rayford is “just part of an overall directional change that is being implemented throughout the minor league system this offseason.” It’ll be interesting to see how deep the cuts go, because the Twins have long been one of the most stable organizations in baseball and the big-league coaching staff and front office seem safe in the midst of the team’s worst season since 1999.

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.