Red Sox join the James Shields hit parade

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Already leading the majors in hits allowed with 135, James Shields gave up 11 more Sunday in the Rays’ 7-3 loss to the Red Sox, making this four straight starts in which he’s allowed at least 10.

Shields is the first pitcher since the Cardinals’ Joel Pineiro in 2008 to surrender at least 10 hits in four consecutive outings. The Rays’ Albie Lopez was the last pitcher to do it more than four starts in a row. He did it in six straight starts in 2001, losing all of them and racking up a 9.09 ERA in the process. Atlanta’s Greg Maddux actually did it five times in a row in 1999, going 2-3 with a 5.93 ERA during that span.

Shields was one of the AL’s best pitchers last year, going 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA in 249 1/3 innings. However, his 2012 is shaping up a lot more like his 2010, when he managed to give up 246 hits in 203 1/3 innings and finished 13-15 with a 5.18 ERA. The Rays would have gotten a top-notch return had they opted to move him last winter; the Reds were interested and could have parted with the same kind of package they gave up for Mat Latos (Yasmani Grandal, Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez and Brad Boxberger). The Rays, though, weren’t trading him then and probably aren’t going to sell low on him now.

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.