Kyle Lohse dominates the Marlins, spoils their big night in their new home

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With all apologies to the Athletics and Mariners, baseball is now really back, thanks to a game being played in this hemisphere, at an hour we could all see it and on actual television. The Cardinals beat the Marlins 4-1.

Our hemisphere, yes, but it often felt like a different universe.  One in which lime green is an acceptable color for an outfield wall. Where players came in accompanied by Brazilian dancers. One in which Kyle Lohse of all people not only gets an Opening Night start, but handcuffs the new-look Marlins, not allowing a hit until the seventh inning.  He ended the night tossing seven and a third innings of two-hit ball, with the Marlins only scoring when Fernando Salas allowed an inherited runner to score on a John Buck double.

As for the Cardinals, they struck early, two scoring on a David Freese single in the first, a third on a Rafael Furcal single in the second and an insurance run on a fielder’s choice in the eighth.

But the results of the game are less important and created less of an impression than this ballpark did.  It’s loud in color, but thanks to the near no-no, it wasn’t too loud in voice.  That outfield seems really, really big to me. Poor John Jay and Emilio Bonafacio seemed like they were running for miles at times.

Maybe the most important thing is that the home run sculpture/monstrosity didn’t go off, and thank goodness for that.  The 7pm start meant that a lot of children could have been watching. Hopefully their parents covered their eyes when Muhammad Ali came out to “throw out” the first pitch.  That was painful to watch given his condition and, with all respect to The Champ, I wonder who thought that was the best idea for Opening Night.

Anyway, baseball’s back folks. And today was the last day until the All-Star break when only one game is being played. Hallelujah.

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.