Strange rumblings in Los Angeles

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I got off an airplane about a half hour ago after taking a red eye flight back to Ohio from Los Angeles, where I spent the weekend. Because I don’t sleep well on airplanes, today is going to be … something less than lucid.

Anyway, the purpose of my trip was not baseball, but I had a couple of baseball observations I’ll share simply because reading more about Ubaldo Jimenez and Troy Tulowitzki seems daunting on as little sleep as I am operating:

I was in a drinking establishment taking my refreshment one evening and the bartender, noting my baseball cap, began to discuss baseball with me. He is a native of L.A. and a life-long Dodgers fan, so I asked him what he felt about Magic Johnson and all of that.  He was happy about it, of course, but he said it was no big deal.

“How do you mean?” I said. “Seems like a big deal to me.”

“Ah, they were going to be OK anyway,” he said.

“You think so?”

“Sure,” he said. “They’re the Dodgers.”

In that I think there is some essential essence of fandom that I don’t think about very often. It’s not … rational.  And that’s probably good for most franchises, frankly.

The second baseball observation of the weekend came when I was driving around, and it involved billboards. I noticed one of those “El Hombre” billboards with Albert Pujols on it. I thought those were taken down because Pujols hated them, but I guess not.

I also noticed way more Dodgers billboards then I ever remember seeing. They were cool, with pictures of old Dodgers sort of morphing into current ones.  Think Maury Wills-to-Davey Lopes-to-Dee-Gordon. There was one with sluggers too, resulting in Matt Kemp but I didn’t see who the other guys were because I was driving and driving in Los Angeles terrifies me.

Finally: I didn’t win the Mega Millions on Friday night, but know that if I did (a) I’d still keep blogging here because it’s fun; but (b) I’d probably be doing it from a house on a beach not unlike this one I was gawking at yesterday. When you get a chance, someone remind why I live in Ohio again.

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.