Posted on April 22, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Somehow, MLB’s first no-hitter of the 2018 season came at the expense of its best team. Oakland Athletics lefty Sean Manaea threw nine no-hit innings against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night. Oakland’s 3-0 win snapped Boston’s eight-game winning streak. It was the first no-hitter by an A’s pitcher since Dallas Braden’s perfect game in 2010. Manaea’s no-hitter also came one day before the 25th anniversary of the last time the Red Sox were on the wrong side of a no-hitter.
“Honestly, it still doesn’t feel real,” Manaea said after the game. “Even after the last out, I couldn’t imagine throwing a no-hitter in the big leagues, especially against a team like the Red Sox. It’s incredible. I don’t even know what to say.”
Obviously, throwing a no-hitter against the Red Sox is one of the more surprising elements of Manaea’s performance. The Red Sox had averaged 7.5 runs per game during their eight-game winning streak. However, Manaea’s brilliant outing didn’t exactly come out of nowhere; he’s been outstanding all season. Despite a 2-2 record in his first four starts, the lefty entered Saturday’s game with an ERA of 1.63. If any pitcher in baseball was going to handle Boston’s lineup, it was Manaea.
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“When you have a no-hitter, it’s special, regardless, but probably a little bit more based on the fact that these guys don’t lose and have been swinging the bat so well,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “You look up and down the lineup and it seems like everybody is hitting over .330.”
Unfortunately, the game was not without some controversy. There were two instances in which the Red Sox thought they had a hit. First, Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon appeared to have a bloop single that Oakland shortstop Marcus Semien couldn’t quite corral. However, it was ruled an error after the ball hit Semien’s glove and fell out despite the shortstop needing to run a long way just to get there.
One inning later, Boston outfielder Andrew Benintendi appeared to have an infield single on a slow roller to Oakland first baseman Matt Olson. However, the four umpires held a conference on the field and determined that Benintendi had run out of the basepath to avoid the tag from Olson.
“I’ve never seen that call before. It’s kind of suspect in that situation,” griped Benintendi after the game. “It’s a big league hit, and they don’t grow on trees. I hit a soft dribbler to first and was starting to get out of the baseline a little bit. More around it, but I was still within the baseline. The guy picked it up and I made a move around him and was able to reach and touch the base. He called me out of the baseline.”
Despite complaints from the Red Sox, the history books will show a no-hitter by Manaea, and one that was well-deserved. The lefty needed just 108 pitches to throw nine no-hit innings. He struck out 10, walked two, and out-dueled Red Sox ace Chris Sale in the process. It was a truly masterful performance on the part of Manaea against one of the best teams the big leagues has ever known during the month of April.
“I’ve caught a lot of great pitchers in this game, and that was the most well-pitched, well-executed game I’ve ever had behind the plate,” A’s catcher Jonathan Lucroy said after the game. “Tonight was picture perfect.”