Little Sarge wants to hit leadoff

Leave a comment

Gary Matthews, Jr. hit leadoff in an intrasquad game yesterday, and he liked it:

“Just the ability to switch hit, I’m comfortable taking pitches and
obviously I’ve done it and had success in Texas. Hitting leadoff is where I’ve had my most success, so it’s where I’m
most comfortable.”

Given his struggles in recent years the notion of sticking Matthews at the top of the order seems kind of nuts, but Matthews is right that he’s had most of his success at the top of the order. His career OPS is slightly higher batting third (.802) than leadoff (.792), he’s got three times as many plate appearances at the top of the order.

I wouldn’t hit him leadoff — if I’m Jerry Manuel I try to limit his plate appearances as much as possible while praying to the deity of my choice that Carlos Beltran gets better quickly — but it’s not like there are a ton of other options there, especially if Manuel follows through with his plan to bat Reyes third.

Sean Manaea pitches the first no-hitter of 2018

Getty Images
10 Comments

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.