Reds hopeful that Johnny Cueto can start NLDS Game 3

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Reds ace Johnny Cueto was lifted from Saturday night’s NLDS Game 1 victory over the Giants after just eight pitches because of back spasms. He appeared to be experiencing a considerable amount of discomfort while he sauntered from the mound to the visitors dugout, but some positive early signs have given hope to the Cincinnati coaching staff.

Here’s Reds manager Dusty Baker, speaking late Saturday with Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“I saw Johnny after the game and he said he was better. Whatever that means, because he was in quite a bit of pain out there. The fact that he said he’s better, and Johnny is usually pretty honest with us, that gives us a glimmer of hope that he might be back (for Game 3).”

“I really feel better,” Cueto confirmed to reporters later. “Right now doing normal activities, I feel good.”

Mat Latos was scheduled to start Game 3 but had to be used in relief on Saturday in San Francisco after Cueto made his early departure. Latos wound up throwing 57 pitches over four innings of one-run ball.

The Reds currently lead the five-game series 1-0. Game 2 is Sunday night. Game 3 is Tuesday.

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.