Oh no! David Ortiz is done!

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david ortiz frustrated.jpgHere we go again.
On the heels of a rather unimpressive spring (.226/.284/.419 with three homers in 62 at-bats), David Ortiz has opened the 2010 season 0-for-7, already leading to a string of articles that he’s done.
Last year saw the same thing, though I think it took at least a week. And Ortiz really did look done for a span of two months. He didn’t hit his first homer until May 20. In the 49 games before he hit his second homer on June 6, he batted .188/.281/.288 in 191 at-bats. He was about as much of a liability as any major leaguer over that span.
The rest of the season was a much different story, though. Ortiz came in at .266/.360/.557 with 27 homers and 78 RBI in his remaining 350 at-bats. It was still south of what he did from 2003 to 2007, but he was one of the AL’s better hitters for four months.
Yet Ortiz entered 2010 as a question mark, the so-called key to whether the Red Sox offense would be merely above average or one of baseball’s best. And the 0-for-7 start makes for an easy story for writers facing a deadline.
A little too easy. Ortiz looked lost at the plate for much of the early portion of last year. We’ve hardly gotten to that point this year. In Tuesday’s loss, he hit a ball in his first at-bat that would have been a single for everyone else in the league. However, the Yankees employed the shift to perfection and his hard shot into what should have been the hole between first and second was gloved by Robinson Cano in shallow right.
In the eighth, he should have been ahead 3-0 on Damaso Marte, but Angel Hernandez called a pitch eight inches off the plate a strike. Had the count been 3-0 instead of 2-1, maybe he would have crushed the hittable fastball he received next. As it was, he was a touch slow and flied out to center.
Ortiz is no longer a superstar, but if he’s still a 900-OPS designated hitter, he’s quite an asset. I projected him to finish a bit under that: .263/.358/.504 with 28 homers and 97 RBI in 502 at-bats. Given his decline, it makes sense to play matchups with him and slide him down in the lineup when he’s slumping. But I doubt we’ll get to the point at which the Red Sox will simply give up on him.
As for whether he should start tonight, I’m in favor of it. Sitting Ortiz in favor of Mike Lowell against tough lefties will make sense most of the time. Ortiz, though, has hit .367/.431/.551 in 49 career at-bats against Andy Pettitte. Manager Terry Francona will pick his spots to get Lowell into the lineup, but I’m not sure this should be one of them.

Sean Manaea thought he was throwing a one hitter

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Tossing a no-hitter doesn’t just require physical excellence; it’s a mental feat, too. Which is why it may have helped that Athletics hurler Sean Manaea didn’t realize his no-hitter was intact until the eighth inning of Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Red Sox.

While the first few innings passed uneventfully, Sandy Leon managed to reach base in the fifth inning after skying a ball to shallow center field. It wasn’t a clean hit, of course — shortstop Marcus Semien dropped the ball on the catch and was promptly charged with an error to preserve Manaea’s no-hit bid.

That was news to Manaea, who told reporters that he didn’t realize he still had a no-hitter going until he saw the scoreboard in the eighth inning. “Until the eighth, I thought it just like was a one-hitter,” he said. “I looked up in the eighth and saw there were still zeros and was like, whoa, weird.” The delay of that realization may have calmed his nerves as he continued to blank the best team in baseball, eventually capping his 108-pitch, 10-strikeout effort in the ninth.

A few fun facts about the feat:

  • Manaea’s no-hitter was the 12th of its kind in franchise history, dating back to Weldon Henley’s no-no against the St. Louis Browns in 1905.
  • The most recent pitcher to do so for the A’s was fellow left-hander Dallas Braden, who completed the club’s second-ever perfect game against the Rays in 2010. Surprisingly, Manaea managed to make even more efficient use of his pitch count than Braden did during his perfecto; he fired just 108 pitches against the Red Sox, a hair under the 109 pitches used by Braden against the Rays.
  • Manaea himself, however, is just the seventh Athletics pitcher (and third lefty) to toss a no-hitter. Legendary southpaw Vida Blue pitched two no-nos for the team, including a combined no-hitter that also featured Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers against the 1975 California Angels.
  • Until Saturday, the Red Sox had the second-longest streak without being no-hit in the majors, at 3,987 games… a record that was only eclipsed by the A’s own streak.
  • With a 17-2 record and .895 winning percentage, the Red Sox were the most successful team to be no-hit in major-league history. Prior to Saturday’s loss, they averaged 6.4 runs per game and had yet to be shut out by any team in 2018.
  • Since 1908, 46 no-hitters have been pitched against AL East teams: four against the Blue Jays, five against the Rays, eight against the Yankees, 13 against the Red Sox and 16 against the Orioles. Mariners lefty Chris Bosio was the last pitcher to no-hit the Red Sox, a feat he accomplished almost exactly 25 years ago on April 22, 1993.