Giving Thanks: The American League Central

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We continue our look at what each team — or their fans — have to be thankful for this winter.

Minnesota Twins: Their division foes. While they broke even against the Tigers, they were 38-16 against the White Sox, Indians, and Royals. They can also be thankful for a serious of silly occurrences which took place in the late 90s and early 2000s which laid the groundwork for Target Field eventually being built. Here’s to you Don Beaver, who couldn’t make a stadium happen in North Carolina! Here’s to you Minnesota Supreme Court who ruled that the Twins had to play in the Metrodome in 2002, thereby rendering any threats of contraction toothless!  Here’s to you all you wacko politicians who managed to wrangle land and tax dollars to pay for a ballpark when there really wasn’t a will out there to have it done!  And no, saying that these folks are worthy of thanks in no way constitutes an endorsement of their actions.  Think of the “thanks” as being in ironic quotation marks. But it really is a nice park, and it’s helping the Twins, so whatever.

Chicago White Sox: June and July. Ultimately it was a disappointing season, but from June 9th to June 26th they won 15 of 16, including an eleven game winning streak. Another nine game winning streak soon followed. By July 20th they were 52-41 with a 3.5 game lead.  Yes, that was the season’s zenith, and their inability to do anything against division rivals killed it, but it was a nice early summer. For a certain brand of baseball fan who truly views baseball as a pastime — as pleasant background noise on pre-dog-day summer nights, a great run in June and July is about as nice a thing as you can have. If you read this blog a lot you’re probably a big enough fan that you don’t fit that description, but there’s a joy to that kind of thing.

Detroit Tigers: The Curtis Granderson trade. Giving up a fan favorite like Granderson is hard, but Dave Dombrowksi did Detroit proud by bringing in Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth.  In that crowd there’s a promising center fielder, a potential ace, a C.J. Wilson experiment for 2011 that I’m rather optimistic about and a serviceable reliever.  Nice haul.

Cleveland Indians: Lebron James. James made his “Decision” on July 8th. The Indians ended that night at 33-52.  They finished the season 36-41.  The second half was way easier to handle what with no one in Cleveland paying any attention to them thanks to the sturm und drang, and they were actually a touch better! I attribute this modest improvement to Lebron!

Kansas City Royals: Years and years of losing. If not for that, they wouldn’t have nearly the minor league system they currently have (and the system they currently have is loaded). It’s not unreasonable to think that, come 2012 or 2013 that the Royals will catapult to the top, Tampa Bay Rays-style. As in, “they were pretty terrible until the moment they became good, at which point they became awesome.”

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.