The Sox will throw Lester and Beckett on short rest — if they make it to Game 4

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For the second straight night the Red Sox’ hitters had no answer for the Angels’ pitchers, and for the second straight night the Angels won convincingly. Speed and timely hitting did it this time, with a Howie Kendrick steal followed up by Maicer Izturis’ poking one through the right side, followed by an Izturis steal, followed by a HBP and a triple and that was all she wrote.  The Angels are up 2-0 heading back to Boston, and while the 2004 ALCS was nice and everything, miracles like that don’t grow on trees.  Boston is on the brink of oblivion, and they know it.

Evidence: Francona plans to bring Jon Lester back for Game 4 — if there is a Game 4 — on short rest.  Beckett would get the same short rest in the unlikely event of a Game 5.  Lester has pitched on short rest only once in his career, allowing four runs (including two homers) over five innings on April 23, 2008.  Oh, and that was against the Angels.  Beckett last pitched on short rest in September of 2004 against the Expos. He had better results: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER 8K and the win.  You probably don’t remember that one as much as his only other time starting on short rest.

Generally speaking, though, it’s a sucker’s bet to throw a starter on three days’ rest in the playoffs.  Teams have done it 72 times since the three-tier playoff system kicked off in 1995. Those teams have lost 45 of those games and have won only 27. Indeed, teams have lost eight of the last ten times a manager was desperate enough to start a guy on three days rest in the postseason.

But maybe it works if a team is really, really desperate:  you’ll recall that the Red Sox started Derek Lowe on two days rest in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS against Yankees. That worked out pretty well.

Masahiro Tanaka throws a Maddux

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You do know what a Maddux is, right? In case you forgot, it’s a complete game shutout in which the starter throws fewer than 100 pitches. Friend of HBT Jason Lukehart invented that little metric and, because Greg Maddux is my favorite player ever, it’s pretty much my favorite stat ever.

In the Yankees-Red Sox game tonight it was Masahiro Tanaka doing the honors, tossing 97-pitch three-hitter in which he only allowed one runner to reach second base to beat Boston 3-0. He only struck out three but he didn’t walk anyone. He retired the last 14 batters he faced.

Chris Sale was no slouch himself, striking out ten in eight innings. He’s pitched great this year but he’s not getting any help. The Sox have only scored four runs in his five starts. Boston has scored only 13 runs in their last seven games. They’ve been shut out three times in the past seven. They scored more runs than anyone last year, by the way.

The game only took two hours and twenty-one minutes. Or, like, half the time of a Yankees-Red Sox game in the early 2000s. Progress, people. We’re making progress.

Shelby Miller has a tear in his UCL, considering Tommy John surgery

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Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller has a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament and is considering undergoing Tommy John surgery. Surgery would end Miller’s 2017 season and would cut into a significant portion — if not all — of his 2018 season as well.

Miller sent his MRI results to Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Dr. James Andrews for second and third opinions, respectively. He could choose to rehab his elbow rather than undergo surgery, but that comes with its own set of positives and negatives.

Miller lasted only four-plus innings in his most recent start on Sunday and carries a 4.09 ERA on the season, his second with the Diamondbacks. His time in Arizona has not gone well.