Former Cubs outfielder Matt Murton threatening to break Ichiro Suzuki's hit record in Japan

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Matt Murton was a 2003 first-round pick who hit .286/.352/.436 in 1,058 plate appearances spread over 354 games for the Cubs, Rockies, and A’s, but for whatever reason never really got a shot to be an everyday player despite doing very well as a 24-year-old regular in 2004.
After spending most of last season at Triple-A he headed to Japan, signing with the Hanshin Tigers, and yesterday Murton became just the fourth player in Japanese history to reach 200 hits in a season. Not only that, but with 201 hits and 10 games remaining he has a chance to break the all-time record of 210 hits held by Ichiro Suzuki.
Murton is hitting .352 with 17 homers for Hanshin and has averaged 1.5 hits per game, which puts him on a 216-hit pace. However, as Daisuke Wakabayashi of the Wall Street Journal points out “there are past examples of Japanese pitchers refusing to challenge foreign players who are close to breaking Japanese baseball records.”
It’ll be interesting to see if Murton gets enough strikes to make a run at Suzuki’s record and if the big season in Japan will cause an MLB to give him another look.

Sean Manaea pitches 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.