Hoffman back in action, but in setup role

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hoffman walking.jpgTrevor Hoffman returned to action on Sunday for the first the first time since allowing three earned runs in a blown save opportunity on May 18 against the Reds.  He got four days off in total, and it seemed to help him this afternoon as he pitched a perfect eighth inning against the Twins.

He won’t return to closing duties until he can string together several quality innings in setup or middle relief.  Carlos Villanueva is covering most of the save chances and John Axford is getting some looks, too.  Hoffman believes that will change eventually, though, and he’s probably right.

“It’s about winning ballgames,” the veteran told MLB.com.  We briefly discussed it, and [the eighth inning is] obviously not where I want to pitch, but I’ve put myself in this
position and put the team in a [poor] position. [Manager Ken Macha]
needs to worry about many different facets of what’s going on, so if I
go out and throw the ball better than I have for a little bit, then
things will change back.”

Hoffman, 42, has a 13.15 ERA and a 2.15 WHIP this season even with Sunday’s flawless frame.  The trust of Macha and the Brewers faithful will return slowly — with time and solid performances.

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.