Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors dug up an interesting article from February of 2010 in which ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark polled “20 baseball wise men” about which of that offseason’s free agent signings were the best. Their answer?
1. John Lackey (5 years, $82.5 million)
2. Chone Figgins (4 years, $36 million)
3. Matt Holliday (7 years, $119 million)
Well, so far they’ve been right about Holliday at least. Stark’s write-up of the poll is plenty interesting in retrospect too:
You might think the Red Sox needed another top-of-the-rotation type starter about as much as the U.S. Curling team needs another broom. But in truth, there’s no such thing as too many big-time starting pitchers. So, faced with a free-agent class that featured no hitters they felt comfortable turning into mega-millionaires, the Red Sox reeled in Lackey.
I really don’t mean to mock Stark, who was merely discussing the results of a poll he conducted and was hardly alone in those thoughts about the Red Sox and Lackey at the time, but the notion of Boston having too much rotation depth is sort of mind-boggling right now.
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.