Brandon Webb, feeling good, keeping an eye on free agency

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick caught up with Brandon Webb, who’s down in Arizona preparing for a comeback season with the Diamondbacks. He says he feels fine and is ready to pitch, but of course guys always say that.  We’ll see once he starts to face live hitters in spring training.

More interesting were the Kentucky native’s comments about free agency, which he’ll hit after this season:

“Obviously you want to see what’s out there and do the best deal you
can for yourself and your family. That’s probably No. 1.  We’ve
had a great time in Arizona, and if everything works out and we stay
here, that would be good. But to get back close to home [in Kentucky]
would be just as good. I’m definitely keeping it open. I’m not going to
hold myself down to just Arizona.”

The joke around these parts is that Cincinnati is the capital of Kentucky.  And there’s a lot of truth to that.  No, I don’t see the Reds having any desire whatsoever to pay what a healthy and effective Brandon Webb would command in free agency.  But then again, I’ve never met a guy from Kentucky who didn’t think hard about taking a job in Cincinnati to be near mom and dad once or twice a year either.

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.