Marlins still hoping Josh Johnson ready by late September

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From Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald comes word that the Marlins are still optimistic that ace right-hander Josh Johnson will be able to return for one or two starts in late September.

Johnson has been on the disabled list since the middle of May with inflammation in his shoulder.

Tests have ruled out structural damage and a visit to Dr. James Andrews in late June went smoothly, so the Marlins are presuming that the 27-year-old starter will continue to make steady progress.

Johnson has been throwing off flat ground for the past couple of weeks in south Florida and could step back atop a mound during the first or second week of September. If he then performs well in simulated games, a return timetable can be mapped out.

Johnson had a brilliant 1.64 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 56/20 K/BB ratio through 60 1/3 innings before his right shoulder began acting up in May. When healthy, he’s one of the most dominant starters in the sport.

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.