Phil Hughes' near no-no vindicates Girardi

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Phil Hughes near no-no.jpgI’ll admit it: I was Team Joba as far as the Yankees’ fifth starter race went this spring. I thought that he had a better repertoire of pitches and a better chance to be a dominant starter than did Phil Hughes. He may one day be that kind of guy — and one game, or even one season is not definitive of anything — but last night’s performance showed that Phil Hughes belongs in the rotation of the defending world champs.

As I mentioned earlier this morning, Hughes took a no-hitter into the 8th inning. And this was not a matter of effective wildness or the A’s simply flailing. I watched most of the game, and it was manifest that he had excellent command last night. He was able to put his fastball wherever he wanted it, and the cutter was even more impressive. His velocity was impressive as well, as he maintained a 94 m.p.h. fastball much later in the game than he has in previous starts.

Losing the no-no the way he did — on a comebacker that he couldn’t find in time to throw Eric Chavez out — was rather deflating, but no one is going to hold that against him.

And no one is going to question the decision to put Hughes in the rotation any time soon.

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.