Lance Lynn moving back to rotation with Chris Carpenter out

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Fortunately for the Cardinals, Chris Carpenter got hurt in early March, rather than at the end of the month.

Manager Mike Matheny made the curious decision last month to have Lance Lynn, Kyle McClellan and Mitchell Boggs all prepare as relievers this spring, even though those three guys seemed to be his next best rotation options in case something happened to one of his top five. Sure enough, Carpenter went down with a neck injury, leaving the Cardinals with a decision to make. Now Lynn, who pitched a scoreless inning against the Marlins on Saturday, will transition back to the rotation.

Lynn was a starter in the minors, and he made his first two major league appearances in that role before shifting to the pen and coming up big for the Cardinals last summer and in October. He had a 2.22 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings of relief work.

With a few weeks to go before Opening Day, there’s still plenty of time for Lynn to get ready to throw five or six innings in a first-week start. That wouldn’t have been the case had Carpenter gone down on March 25 instead. So, while things have worked out okay for Matheny, one of his first decisions as Cardinals manager already looks like something of a rookie mistake.

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.