Last year Brandon Belt led all minor leaguers in OPS during his first pro season, batting .352 with 76 extra-base hits, 22 steals, and 93 walks in 136 games while playing at three different levels, but yesterday Giants general manager Brian Sabean indicated that the 23-year-old first baseman will likely begin 2011 back at Triple-A.
Sabean didn’t rule out Belt forcing his way into the team’s Opening Day plans, but made it clear to Chris Haft of MLB.com that the 2009 fifth-round pick will be facing an uphill battle:
You don’t want a young player, or potentially a player that’s going to burst on the scene, [coming] to spring training and [having] no chance. You have to give them some hope that you’re going to be open-minded. Having said that, I probably expect him to start in Triple-A, and we’ll be conservative. But you can’t kill his enthusiasm or his will to want to make the team. He’ll have to force his way into this mix through his performance.
San Francisco didn’t call up Buster Posey until May 29 last season and he was an even better, more MLB-ready prospect than Belt, so most likely he’ll have to beat up on Triple-A pitching for a couple months before potentially taking over as the Giants’ first baseman and pushing Aubrey Huff to left field.
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.