Talks between Cards and Westbrook already “taking place”

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Things are falling into place for a long-term marriage between the Cardinals and right-hander Jake Westbrook.  The free agent told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in September that he would “definitely” be interested in returning to St. Louis and GM John Mozeliak shared the same feeling last week.

Now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting that discussions are “taking place” and that Mozeliak and Co. have expressed a “high level of interest” in retaining their No. 3 starter.

Westbrook, 33, posted a 3.48 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 12 starts with the Cardinals this season after joining the club as part of a three-team deal in late July.  He had a 4.22 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 33 overall outings with a 128/68 K/BB ratio in 202.2 innings.

The Cards will sport a starting rotation of Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Kyle Lohse next season.  If Westbrook is brought back, he would probably slot in between Carpenter and Garcia.  And maybe right after the Rookie of the Year Award candidate.

Now let’s talk money.  Westbrook earned $11 million this past season and will likely be asking for a similar salary over the next 4-5 seasons.  The Cardinals have to pay slugger Albert Pujols soon and must decide if there will be enough money left over for that possibly historic contract extension.

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.