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Red Sox 0, Athletics 3: Sean Manaea no-hits the Sox

What a performance

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics Kiel Maddox-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in 25 years, the Red Sox have been no-hit. It was a shocking occurrence given how hot this Red Sox lineup has been of late, but sometimes you just run into great pitching. That’s exactly what happened today as Sean Manaea just cruised through the Red Sox lineup, only allowing three baserunners on the game with zero (0) of them coming on hits. There were a couple of somewhat controversial rulings which I’ll get into below, but ultimately the Red Sox only made solid contact off the A’s lefty once or twice in the game. This was a 100 percent earned no-hitter. It sucks that it happened to the Red Sox, but there’s something to be said about witnessing this kind of domination as it unfolds.

The Red Sox were due for a down day at the plate at some point soon, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted it would be like this. Manaea, of course, deserves a whole lot of credit for what he was able to do in this game, as it wasn’t just poor performances from Red Sox players at the dish. The Oakland lefty doesn’t generally have great strikeout stuff, but you don’t need to be overpowering when you have the kind of pinpoint command with all of your pitches like Manaea had on Saturday. He was totally unpredictable with his pitch usage and he lived on the corners all night, making for a very, very frustrating night for Red Sox players at the plate.

They actually managed to break up the perfect game right away when Mookie Betts drew a walk to lead the game off. Of course, in the first plate appearance of the game you’re not really thinking about the perfect game, but in hindsight it seems that was exactly what was at stake.

After that walk, Manaea just rolled through the Red Sox lineup. He got a couple of strikeouts in the second, and the Red Sox didn’t really challenge to get a baserunner for a few innings. They had a routine grounder, a strikeout and a pop up in the second. In the third, they had two more strikeouts and a routine grounder, and Boston followed that up with another grounder and two more strikeouts in the fourth.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics Kiel Maddox-USA TODAY Sports

Things got a little interesting, at least relatively speaking, in the fifth after Manaea got two fly outs to lead the inning off. Sandy Leon was up third and he hit a blooper out towards no-man’s land between shortstop, left and center field. Semien did manage to get there but he bobbled the pop up over his shoulder and it fell to the ground, but it was ruled an error. I tend to think it would have been ruled a hit if Manaea didn’t have a no-hitter going at that point, but to be fair a better shortstop probably is able to settle under that ball a little easier. In any case, if a borderline call on a blooper is what’s holding you back from being no-hit, you probably deserve to be no-hit.

There was a little more controversy with two outs in the sixth, too. Andrew Benintendi was up this time and he hit a weak little chopper out towards the first baseman. Matt Olson grabbed the ball and attempted to tag Benintendi, but the Red Sox outfielder got out of the way and dove safely into first base. He was a bit shaken up on the play, but ultimately stayed in. However, the umps conferred after the conclusion of the play and determined that Benintendi veered out of the baseline to avoid the tag, reversing the call and maintaining the no-hitter. I think they probably made the right call here in a technical sense, but I’m also not sure I’ve ever seen that call made on a play so close, and again I don’t think it gets called without a no-hitter in tact. However, much like the other play, if a weak chopper is holding you back from getting no-hit, then you don’t really get to complain too much.

Manaea would come back with a relatively straight-forward seventh, inducing a couple of pop outs along with a ground out against the middle of the Red Sox order. The eighth wouldn’t prove any more difficult as he got two more strikeouts and another pop out for another easy inning.

He was just three more outs away from the no-hitter, with Tzu-Wei Lin, Betts and Benintendi due up. Blake Swihart came in to pinch hit for Lin, and he grounded out to shortstop on a play that was closer than it probably should have been. Betts flew out to right field on a ball that got to the warning track to put Manaea just one out away. Benintendi couldn’t break up the no-hitter, but he did extend the inning with a two-out walk. Hanley Ramirez ended it, though, with a groundout to shortstop for the first no-hitter against the Red Sox since 1993. An absolutely masterful performance by Manaea. There will be talk about how those two rulings allowed it to happen, but the A’s lefty was incredible and deserves all of the credit in the world for what he was able to do tonight.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox had Sale on the mound and there was some good news and bad news here. The good news is that his velocity got back up after looking down in his first few outings, lending some credence to the idea that cold weather was holding him back a bit in that regard. The bad news is that he still wasn’t quite as sharp as we know he can be, particularly very early in the game. He still had a solid night overall and this game was much more about the offense than the starting pitching, but there were still some command issues for the Red Sox ace.

As I said, he was at his shakiest in that first inning against the top of the A’s order. He couldn’t locate any of his pitches right off the bat, and he walked the leadoff man in Marcus Semien. From there he did get his first strikeout of the game, but then Jed Lowrie struck again for an RBI double to give Oakland a very early 1-0 lead. Oakland would strand the runner there.

Sale started to look sharper from there, getting an easy 1-2-3 second and a strikeout to start the third. However, the top of the order came back up at that point and they struck again. This time, Semien got a single and then Stephen Piscotty ripped an RBI double into the right-center field gap to make it 2-0 Oakland. Sale would get two more strikeouts to finish off that inning and then worked around a double into the fourth to keep the deficit at two. Oakland would extend that by one in the fifth, though, and it was Semien doing some damage again. Sale threw the shortstop a fastball on the inner half and he was able to turn on it and send it over the wall in left field for a solo shot to give Oakland a 3-0 lead. That was all Sale would allow as he got through the next couple innings relatively easily. In all he’d go seven innings allowing the two runs on six hits and a walk with ten strikeouts. He also went over 100 pitches for the first time this season.

Heath Hembree came on for the eighth and after two quick outs he allowed a double and a walk before getting out of it.

So, the Red Sox will look to quickly put this one behind them and salvage a series victory on Sunday afternoon for the final game of this West Coast trip. Boston will be sending David Price to the mound with Daniel Mengden going for Oakland. First pitch is at 4:05 PM ET.


Courtesy of Fangraphs