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.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.