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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Oakland Athletics toss no-hitter at Sox

By MIKE SHALIN
April 21. 2018 9:50PM
Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Manaea (55) throws a pitch during the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., April 21, 2018. (Kiel Maddox-USA TODAY Sports)



No one, and I mean, no one, saw THAT coming.

The Red Sox, piling up all kinds of offensive numbers early in the season, ran into a young lefty named Sean Manaea out in Oakland Saturday night – and the kid threw a no-hitter at them.

The third loss in 20 games was also the first time in 25 years the Sox had been no-hit. A special effort with some controversy, but slowing down this juggernaut was truly something that tells you that you just never know what you will find when you go to a ballpark.

Sean Manaea.

Two walks, 10 strikeouts.

Alex Cora, now 17-3 as a big-league manager, argued the call that took a hit away from Andrew Benintendi but after the game called it “a 50-50 call” and said, “Give (Manaea) credit, man.”

Special start

Back in 1984, the Detroit Tigers got off to a 35-5 start and roared all the way through the playoffs and World Series.

Through 19 games, that team was 17-2, Jack Morris already 4-0 and the Tigers outscoring their opponents 114-62.

Friday night, the Red Sox improved … yep, 17-2, with Rick Porcello already 4-0. The Red Sox were outscoring their opponent 123-53, averaging a whopping 6.5 runs per game.

I did some simple math prior to Friday’s game and the Red Sox, who scored 785 runs last year, were on pace to become the first team since the 1999 Indians to score a thousand runs in a season. The club record is 1,027, set in 1950.

Walt Dropo and Vern Stephens both drove in 144 runs, Bobby Doerr 120 and Ted Williams 97 in just 89 games for that team, which didn’t even win the pennant.

Sixteen teams have scored a thousand runs in a season, only those Indians of ’99 since 1950.

The goal is rather unrealistic, but when you consider it, it would take an average of 6.2 runs per game – less than they had posted through Friday – for the Red Sox to do it.

The Astros scored 896 runs and went on to win their first World Series last season. The Sox were ahead of that pace through 19 games.

By the way, the Tigers won their 20th game, something the Red Sox were not able to do late Saturday night.

Five teams in the live-ball era have started 17-2 and the Tigers and 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers are the only ones to win it all.

Fewer games?

It has been suggested that shortening the major-league schedule back to the 154 played prior to American League expansion in 1961 could help with these extreme weather problems. But a loss of eight games means less money, and we know how the owners would feel about that, right?

"I think we play too much baseball," Cubs star Anthony Rizzo said on ESPN 1000 in Chicago early this week. "Yes, guys are going to take pay cuts. But are we playing this game for the money or do we love this game? I know it's both, but in the long run it will make everything better."

Later in the week, commissioner Rob Manfred chimed in, essentially echoing Rizzo's words.

"I think that Anthony's comments were realistic in the sense that he linked the fact that if, in fact, you're going to go to 154 or some lower number of games, that players would have to be participants in that process," Manfred told the Associated Press. "They're going to work less, they're probably going to make less."

There has been a drop in attendance, which can be attributed in part to the rotten weather. But what is the effect of the number of teams tanking?

Thanks for coming

Through Friday, the Reds were 3-16, been outscored 104-56 and had already fired manager Bryan Price, the Royals were 4-14 (outscored 95-56) after ending a nine-game losing streak with a win over the Tigers in the night half of a split doubleheader, the Orioles were 6-14 (outscored 110-69) and had gone 10-33 dating to the end of last season, the Rays were 6-13 (outscored 101-70), the Marlins 5-14 (outscored 117-62) and White Sox 4-12 (outscored 103-62).

Bright futures for all.

Loving Mookie

Have to admit a raised eyebrow here when NESN broadcaster Dave O'Brien said Mookie Betts is "one of the best players in baseball and many people say THE best." I was wondering who said THE best, but count Buck Showalter among those who thinks Betts is in the discussion.

"I've told anyone who will listen, (Betts is) the best right fielder I've ever seen in person," Showalter told MLB.com.

"The dynamic he creates for them defensively in right field at Fenway is a big advantage for Boston. Special player. Game-changer. The term five-tool player is used loosely. But it aptly describes him. One of my most favorite players in our game."

Around the horn

Baltimore right-hander Nestor Cortes, a Rule V selection, did it in style when the first two home runs he allowed in the major leagues were grand slams. For the record, STATS tells us he is the 14th pitcher in history to claim that dubious accomplishment.

The Yankees placed reliever Adam Warren on the disabled list Saturday, giving them nine players on the DL, with an average age of 26.6 years.

Young third baseman Miguel Andujar recently had three straight multi-hit games, making him the first Yankees third baseman to pull that off since Bob Meusel in 1930.

The Red Sox didn’t hit a grand slam last season. Mitch Moreland hit the club’s fifth this month in Friday night in Oakland.

The A’s gave away 46,028 tickets and wore throwback uniforms to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the move to Oakland last Tuesday, a 10-2 Athletics win. “It was loud,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It looked like the place was packed. That was the objective, and I really wanted to put on a good show for them, and our guys did, right away. It was great to score some runs early on and get the crowd into it. When they get into it, they have a lot of fun.”

Friday was the anniversary of Opening Day at Fenway in 1939 — Ted Williams’ first Opening Day and Lou Gehrig’s last.

Sons of major leaguers Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio were hitting .333, .321 and .286, respectively through Friday for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., brother of Houston’s Yuli Gurriel, was hitting .347 with 11 RBIs in 12 games with New Hampshire and was called up by the Blue Jays. On Friday night, he had two hits and three RBIs in his major league debut in New York.

Alex Cobb, hammered in his Orioles debut against the Red Sox, wasn’t any better in his second start. In the two games, he is 0-2 with a 15.43 ERA and has allowed 20 hits — three homers — in just seven innings.

Mike Napoli, trying to work his way back to the major leagues, suffered a torn ACL and meniscus and is out for the season. Forever? “I told him, ‘Things happen for a reason,’” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Who knows? Maybe this now starts him on a second journey in his career. I’m not speaking for him — that’s not fair. But that’s what I hope.”

Former NFL guard Evan Mathis, who won a Super Bowl with the Broncos and made $21 million in his football career, sold a Mickey Mantle 1952 baseball card for $2.88 million at auction. The price trails only the $3.12 million paid for a 1906 Honus Wagner.

Trayce Thompson’s April magical mystery continued when he was traded by the A’s to the White Sox this week. He has gone from the Dodgers to the Yankees to the A’s to the White at the start of this season.

Former Patriot Tyler Gaffney has left his injury-marred football career to pursue baseball with the Pirates. “My dream has been the big leagues my whole life,” he said. “I think I’ve been tasting that every time I was hurt. You have time to think about things like that. So now I’m here, putting in my work. Now I’m here, five years later. I think the last couple years took their toll on my body. The heart wanted it. The body didn’t. I’m finally able to come back to baseball, the sport I love.”

For the record, Baseball Reference had the records of 19,226 players through Friday.

Finally, this from ESPN: “When this season started, the Red Sox had played 8,337 regular-season games at Fenway Park. They have since played nine home games in the 2018 season, pushing the total to 8,346. That means with 21 more home games, the Fenway site will have seen more regular-season games than any other spot on Earth. Barring further postponements, that milestone game will be played June 6, when Boston hosts Detroit in a night game.”

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.


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