Jeremy Affeldt making steady recovery from sliced hand

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Giants setup man Jeremy Affeldt was shut down in early September after slicing open his right (non-throwing) hand while trying to separate frozen hamburger patties in his home kitchen.

The cut was deep — coming within a millimeter of a major artery — so the left-hander has been treated with care over the last month-plus. And he’s now beginning to show signs of real progress.

According to the Associated Press, via FOX Sports, Affeldt is expected to have the protective brace removed from his right hand within the next couple of days, after an examination by a specialist in the Bay Area. He’s fully expected to be ready by the start of spring training next February.

Affeldt posted a 2.63 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 61 2/3 innings this season for the Giants, striking out 54 batters while issuing 24 walks. The 32-year-old southpaw carries a $5 million club option for 2012.

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.