Nyjer Morgan stirs up trouble again with hit on Cards catcher

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It hasn’t drawn much media coverage, but there was a troubling incident at the end of Saturday’s game between the Cardinals and Nationals involving outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who is currently appealing a suspension for a mistake he made one week ago in Philadelphia…

The Nats hammered St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse for eight earned runs and 11 hits and were well on their way to locking up a decisive victory against the heavily-favored Cardinals by the bottom of the eighth inning.  Adam Dunn walked to open the frame, Mike Morse hit a single, Ivan Rodriguez netted an RBI base hit, then Morgan reached on a bunt. 

Seconds later, pinch-hitter Willie Harris drilled a double to right field that had all runners moving and would have allowed Morgan to score easily from first base.  Morgan would have been the 13th run in an eventual 14-5 victory.

Instead of scoring, though, Morgan ran straight toward Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson, who had stepped a foot or two in front of the plate, and lowered his shoulder for an odd hockey-like check.  Anderson was caught off guard and stumbled to the side while Morgan was called out.

Because it happened so fast and the game was completely out of hand, the Cardinals simply went on with their business.  But if Morgan is in the starting lineup on Sunday afternoon, you can bet his backside is going to meet an aimed fastball.

The motivation behind the hit remains unclear.  Maybe Brandon Phillips was right, and everyone really does dislike the Cardinals.  Or maybe Morgan really, really, really hates Glenn Beck and was taking a jab at Cards manager Tony La Russa via his backup catcher.  Any conspiracy theory will work for such an odd and seemingly misguided display of aggression.

Anderson, who was filling in for a banged-up Yadier Molina, spoke to reporters after the game.  Via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“It’s going to take a little bit bigger of a guy than that to take me down… so I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal.  I mean, it was, because it was a cheap shot, but not really, I guess.”

Shall we do a tale of the tape?  Why not.  Anderson, 23, stands 6-foot-1 and is listed at 200 lbs.  Morgan, 30, is 6-foot-0 and listed at 170 lbs., but is a former high-level hockey player.  Perhaps the two will drop the gloves on Sunday afternoon in the nation’s capital.

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.