Chad Billingsley “insisted he isn’t hurt” after latest poor start

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Chad Billingsley turned in another ugly start yesterday, failing to make it out of the third inning against the Nationals, and has now allowed 24 runs in his last 31 innings.

During that six-start stretch Billingsley has nearly as many walks (18) as strikeouts (22) and has served up five homers. And he’s also shown decreased velocity, topping out in the low-90s.

Despite all that Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that “Billingsley insisted he isn’t hurt and manager Don Mattingly said there are no signs that anything is physically wrong.”

Instead the struggling right-hander told Hernandez that “his problem is mechanical” and he’s been working to correct the issues during bullpen sessions. Of course, Billingsley’s struggles actually date back much further than the past six starts. He finished May with a 3.46 ERA, but has a 4.96 ERA and 71/46 K/BB ratio in 96 innings since then.

Whether due to bad mechanics or arm problems, for a 27-year-old pitcher with excellent raw stuff who came into this season with a 3.55 career ERA and 2.1 strikeouts per walk that qualifies as more than just a simple slump.

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.