The triple-A national championship game is tonight

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You’re likely not aware of this because hardly anyone pays attention to triple-A baseball beyond what it means for the prospects of the big league teams, but tonight is the triple-A national championship game. Squaring off: my hometown Columbus Clippers — the defending triple-A champs — against the Omaha Storm Chasers.  Yeah, they really stuck with that name. I was rather shocked to be honest.

The format is weird for baseball — it’s a one-game, winner-take-all kind of thing — but it’s probably asking too much for a neutral site to fill a ballpark up seven times for minor league baseball. That neutral site is Albuquerque this year. After spending several years in a single location it rotates year-by-year now.  I can’t think of what else I’d rather do if I were in Albuquerque this evening.

Mitch Talbot gets the start for Columbus.  Sean O’Sullivan goes for Omaha. As is obviously the case with minor league baseball — especially triple-A baseball — there are a lot of guys here who weren’t on the teams during the regular season and vice-versa.  No Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas, for example. And each team has some ringers. Kila Ka’aihue is one for the Chasers. Nick Johnson for the Clippers. Yes, he’s healthy.

The game will be televised on Versus starting tonight at 8PM.  Yes, I would be writing about this even if I didn’t work for the company that owns Versus. Columbus represent, ya dig?

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.