Look! A series with playoff implications!

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Let’s stop talking about games that have been cancelled and start talking about games that matter. Like the series that really and truly matters most this weekend, the Angels vs. the Rangers.

Who’d-a-thunk it a week and a half ago when Texas soundly dispatched Anaheim, taking three of four in the Big A, and extending their division lead to seven?  Then the Angels went on a tear and the Rangers lost their gravity and here we are with only two games separating the two.

Tonight is Dan Haren vs. Derek Holland. Haren was knocked around by the Rangers back on July 20th, but he’s on a bit of a roll right now. Holland is the opposite: he was pretty sharp the last time out against Texas but has had a rough go of it in August otherwise, most recently being beat up by the White Sox.  I’m told by the sports writing guild that I am obligated to say “something’s gotta give” here, but I’m not even sure that applies. But hey, rules are rules.

In the other two games it’s C.J. Wilson vs. Joel Piniero and then Colby Lewis vs. Jered Weaver on Sunday Night Baseball.

Real pennant race baseball. And no hurricanes. Guaranteed.

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.