With the Red Sox trying to put the Rays away in a three-game series beginning Friday, John Lackey has given all three Rays fans reasons to hope: he just left with the Red Sox down 5-0 after three innings.
It’s the first early exit for Lackey during the second half, but it’s the sixth straight outing in which he’s given up at least four runs. He’s hasn’t allowed fewer than three runs in a start since facing the Mariners on July 22 and he hasn’t done so against a good offense but once all season (against Philadelphia on June 29).
So, while the newspapers have debated whether Lackey or Erik Bedard should start Game 3 of the postseason series for the Red Sox, the real debate is whether Lackey should be on the postseason roster at all. He might be a better bet in October to go six innings and give up four runs than Tim Wakefield or Andrew Miller, but there really doesn’t seem to be any upside here at all.
With Clay Buchholz making progress and hopeful of returning as a reliever at the end of the month, the Red Sox really need to think about stretching out Alfredo Aceves and setting him up as a postseason fourth starter. He pitched 3 1/3 innings last time out on Monday, so it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Aceves, who made four starts earlier this season, has a 2.87 ERA in 94 innings on the year.
Of course, the Red Sox also have to be concerned with simply making the postseason. They’re lead over the Rays will drop to 5 1/2 games if they go on to lose tonight.
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.