Link-O-Rama: Lester or Beckett in Game 1?

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* Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald reports that the Red Sox will likely start Jon Lester in Game 1 of the ALDS, followed by Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Beckett was MVP of the World Series in 2003 and MVP of the ALCS in 2007, and has a sparkling 7-2 record and 2.90 ERA in 87 postseason innings. Then again, Lester has been the Red Sox’s best pitcher this season and has a 2.25 ERA in 36 postseason innings himself. Can’t go wrong either way, really.
* On a related note, Brad Penny turned in another strong start last night, holding the Cubs to one run over eight innings. Penny and John Smoltz now have a combined 3.24 ERA in 11 starts back in the NL after going 9-13 with a 6.24 ERA in 32 starts for the Red Sox. Helluva league, that NL.
* After a decade with the Orioles and the 10th-most games in franchise history, Melvin Mora is preparing for life away from Baltimore once his $8 million option for 2010 gets declined. Mora was a 28-year-old utility man when the Orioles got him from the Mets as part of the haul for Mike Bordick in mid-2000, but since then he’s been one of the best third basemen in the league while making two All-Star teams and hitting 158 homers.
* David Brown of Yahoo! Sports did a great interview with Denard Span, who has emerged as one of the best all-around players in the league after once looking like a bust.
* Brandon Webb reiterated yesterday that he’s not interesting in an incentive-laden contract, so if the Diamondbacks want to keep him from becoming a free agent they’ll need to pick up his $8.5 million option for 2010. “I’ve got to go out and see what’s best for me,” Webb said. “I think I can get [$8.5 million] anywhere I want.” And he’s probably right.

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.