After a brief rest/demotion following a pair of ugly outings last week, Bobby Jenks is back to closing for the White Sox.
Here’s how manager Ozzie Guillen explained the situation:
I never took the job away from Jenks. I never did. I just said I want Jenks to throw the ball better and we will put him in a position to get back on track to see what he is. I keep saying this. We’re a good ball club. We’re a better ball club if Bobby is our closer because that makes a lot of things easier for us. He threw the ball better, yes he did. The sooner I see Bobby back on track, he will be back to what he does. I won’t hesitate. I will do it right away if we like the way he throws the ball. He will be back to his job.
Jenks has pitched just once since blowing a save against the Mariners last week, so it seems pretty clear that Guillen is telling the truth when he says it was never truly a demotion. He’s stuck with Jenks through plenty of rough patches, and while his ERA is a career-worst 4.95 right now he’s only blown two official saves in 22 chances.
Jenks is obviously no longer an elite closer, but using him strictly in the ninth inning does allow Guillen to mix and match the White Sox’s best relievers, Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz, more fluidly in setup roles.
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.