Dice-K could use a day off

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While everyone wonders what the Yankees will do with Wang and the
Tigers with Willis, I’m far more interested in seeing what the Red Sox
are going to do with their problem starter, Daisuke Matsuzaka. In case
you missed it, Dice-K had yet another rough go of it on Saturday,
giving up four runs on seven hits in four innings following a rain
delay. Dice-K refused to go all Milli Vanilli with it
(“I can’t blame the rain or the delay for anything. I don’t want to
blame it on the rain”), but you have to figure that was at least
something of a factor. Still, he has given up ten runs in 14.2 innings
in June, appears to be laboring. Well, he always appears to be laboring; just more so recently.

John Smoltz is scheduled to start on Thursday,
though no one knows if it will be for Pawtucket or Boston. Here’s a
suggestion: give the old guy an extra day’s rest and let him take
Matsusaka’s turn on Friday. This accomplishes a couple of things.
First, it gives Dice-K a little break. Second, it will ensure that the
old and recently-injured Smoltz is good and fresh for his return to the
Majors.

Oh, and given who the Sox play on Friday, it would make for a wonderful little storyline as well.

Sean Manaea pitches the first no-hitter of 2018

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Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea delivered his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox in a decisive 3-0 victory on Saturday night. Any thought of a perfect game was banished in the first at-bat, when Mookie Betts drew a leadoff six-pitch walk to open the first inning. From there, Manaea was nearly flawless, holding the Sox to four total baserunners and striking out 10 of 30 batters faced — a career record.

Manaea was gifted a three-run lead thanks to RBI doubles from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien‘s solo shot off of Chris Sale in the fifth inning. While the Red Sox managed to draw two walks off of Manaea, they didn’t come anywhere close to plating a run. Andrew Benintendi tried to break up the no-no in the sixth inning with an infield hit down the first base line, but strayed out of bounds and later saw his hit reversed on a call of batter interference.

Entering the ninth inning, the 26-year-old lefty was sitting at just 95 pitches through eight frames of no-hit ball. He quickly deposed Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts with a groundout and fly out, then walked Benintendi on seven pitches. Any threat the Red Sox might have posed was soon eliminated, however, as Hanley Ramirez ground into a force out to complete the no-hitter.

Manaea is the first A’s pitcher to toss a no-no since Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays eight years ago. The last time the Red Sox were on the losing end of a no-hitter was also against an AL West rival, when the Mariners’ Chris Bosio clinched a 2-0 no-no on April 22, 1993. Manaea’s feat is even more outstanding given how dominant the Red Sox have looked this season: prior to Saturday’s defeat, they boasted a 17-2 record and had yet to be shut out during the regular season.