Carlos Marmol yanked from save chance with two outs

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Mike Quade threw Carlos Marmol right back into the fire following his disastrous blown save yesterday, but the Cubs’ closer looked extremely shaky again today and was yanked with two outs in the ninth inning against the Marlins.

Marmol came on to close out a 2-0 lead, but walked leadoff man Omar Infante on four pitches, got Gaby Sanchez to pop out, and then gave up a long single to Hanley Ramirez. Luckily for Marmol the only thing worse than his control right now might be Ramirez’s brain, as he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double representing the tying run.

So instead of runners on the corners with one out Logan Morrison came to the plate with a runner on third base and two outs, and extended the inning with a sharp single to right field to make it 2-1. Quade mercifully took out Marmol and brought in left-hander Sean Marshall to face right-handed slugger Mike Stanton–which tells you he simply wanted Marmol out of the game at all costs–and he wriggled out of the jam and notched the save with a strikeout.

Ultimately the Cubs got the win and Marmol narrowly avoided his MLB-leading eighth blown save thanks to Marshall’s nifty escape, but he clearly doesn’t look right. When he’s on Marmol has perhaps the most overpowering, unhittable stuff in baseball, yet right now he either can’t find the strike zone or is grooving pitches just to avoid walking the ballpark.

Through his first 37 appearances Marmol struck out 52 of the 168 batters he faced, which is a remarkable 31 percent. Counting today, he’s now faced 20 consecutive hitters without a strikeout, walking seven batters during that span.

Sean Manaea thought he was throwing a one hitter

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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.