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Nate Karns might need season-ending surgery

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Two Royals pitchers are facing a premature end to the 2017 season, according to comments from club manager Ned Yost and vice president of communication Mike Swanson. Left-hander Matt Strahm underwent season-ending knee surgery on Friday after sustaining a torn patellar tendon in his left knee last week, while right-hander Nate Karns could potentially undergo thoracic outlet surgery after feeling prolonged discomfort in his right forearm. Both pitchers had already been placed on the 60-day disabled list prior to the announcement.

Karns, 29, was off to a promising start in his first season with the Royals. He went 2-2 in his first eight starts and turned in a 4.17 ERA, 2.6 BB/9 and 10.1 SO/9 over 45 1/3 innings. He’s still looking to bounce back from a tough run in Seattle last year, during which he sustained a serious lower back injury and produced an inflated 5.15 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 9.6 SO/9 through 94 1/3 innings.

The right-hander is expected to consult with thoracic outlet syndrome specialist Dr. Robert Thompson in the next few days, after which a decision will be made by the team. Should Karns’ forearm tightness require season-ending surgery, Yost said the righty should be ready to pitch again by spring training. With the second half approaching and neither Karns nor Strahm ready to resume their roles anytime soon, however, it seems more than likely that the club will start exploring external options to beef up their pitching staff as they chase down the division title.

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.