Florida vs. Arizona

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The New York Times’ Tyler Kepner runs down the differences between spring training in Florida vs. spring training in Arizona. He focuses on how as of next year every Cactus League team will play in the greater Phoenix area and how everything in Florida is spaced out. He could have added that the weather, generally speaking, is better in Arizona too (though in my spring training week there were the same number of washed out days — one — in both Florida and Arizona).

Personally I didn’t mind Florida’s spring training geography, but I’m something of a road trip freak who appreciates long drives on two lane roads, Waffle Houses, and cheesy tourist traps more than most people do.  Anyone looking for the most baseball bang for their buck, however, would probably do better to hit Arizona for a week than the Sunshine State.

Next year I’ll probably do Arizona just to see what that’s like, but like most things in life, I’m glad there is some diversity in spring training sites. If for no other reason than it gives us something to argue about.

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.