The Yankees beat the Rays, clinch a playoff spot

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For the Yankees, it’s 16 playoff appearances in 17 years. For the Rays: missed opportunities. For the Red Sox: some breathing room, at least for a bit.  The Yankees beat the Rays 4-2 in the front end of a double header today.

The game was decided in the eighth when James Shields allowed a homer to Eduardo Nunez to tie it up.  Joe Maddon left Shields in the game and he struck out Eric Chavez before allowing Brett Gardner to single and then reach second on a stolen base. Derek Jeter then walked, bringing up Robinson Cano.

Shields was at 120 pitches at this point.  He was likely gassed, and it was a totally defensible call to bring in a reliever. Whether he brought in the correct one, however, in J.P. Howell is something Rays fans are likely still asking themselves. Howell has been the worst guy in that Rays pen all year. Yes, he’s a left and you want a lefty to face Cano in that situation, but Howell? That’s a major “hurm” moment if I’ve ever seen one. Cano doubled off Howell, scoring Gardner and Jeter. Which was basically the ballgame.

For the Yankees, the playoffs await again. For the Rays, another missed opportunity to put pressure on the Red Sox.  A Red Sox team which, even if it keeps losing games, won’t lose any ground if the Rays do the same.

Oh, and the Yankees did not have the champagne shower after this game. It would have made the nightcap a bit too difficult to get through, I would reckon.

Sean Manaea pitches 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.