Piniella announces Cubs batting order with Byrd fifth, Soriano sixth

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Speaking at the annual Cubs convention over the weekend, manager Lou Piniella revealed that new center fielder Marlon Byrd has been penciled into the No. 5 spot in the batting order and Alfonso Soriano will remain in the No. 6 spot that he filled during the second half of last season.
Soriano spent his first two-and-a-half seasons with the Cubs batting almost exclusively leadoff, but was never a particularly good fit there. Not only is he a high-strikeout free-swinger with a sub par .328 career on-base percentage, batting atop the lineup limited his RBI chances and often wasted Soriano’s power. He’s a better fit in the sixth spot, but my guess is that he’ll eventually end up hitting fifth behind Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez while Byrd slides down in the order.
Signed to a three-year, $15 million deal last month, Byrd has hit fifth in 18 percent of his career starts and saw plenty of action there for the Rangers. However, in three years with Texas he hit a modest .281/.328/.414 away from the Rangers’ offense-boosting home ballpark and prior to 2009 his career-high was 10 homers. Signing the 32-year-old Byrd to a three-year deal with the expectation that he’ll be a good defensive center fielder and productive No. 5 hitter for the life of the contract is going to leave the Cubs disappointed.

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.