Carlos Marmol (wildly) returns to mound in non-closer role

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Stripped of closing duties last week following back-to-back ugly appearances, Carlos Marmol returned to the mound last night and successfully pitched the ninth inning of a 6-1 victory for the Cubs.

However, it wasn’t exactly a flawless appearance, as Marmol walked two of the five batters he faced and threw just 15 of 29 pitches for strikes.

The good news is that he got swinging strikeouts on both Ryan Howard and John Mayberry Jr. after the right-hander with the best single-season strikeout rate in MLB history whiffed zero batters in his previous six games.

After the game Marmol talked about studying video of his mechanics with pitching coach Mark Riggins, saying: “I feel great right now.”

His return to the closer role will have to wait, however, as manager Mike Quade indicated that it’ll take more than one scoreless but walk-filled outing to reclaim ninth-inning duties from Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood.

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.