Astros release outfielder Rick Ankiel

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This hardly comes as a surprise, but Sara Eckert of CSNHouston.com reports that the Astros have officially released outfielder Rick Ankiel.

Ankiel was designated for assignment earlier this week as part of a mini-roster shakeup and passed through waivers unclaimed. While the 33-year-old outfielder ranked second on the Astros with five home runs, he was batting just .194 with a .234 on-base percentage and had a miserable 35/3 K/BB ratio in 65 plate appearances. That’s a strikeout rate of 53.8 percent. Yikes.

That Ankiel was dumped by the worst team in the American League doesn’t bode well for his chances of finding an opportunity elsewhere. Still, he’s had a heck of a career for someone who appeared done in his early 20s.

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.