Stephen Strasburg’s latest dominant start last night featured 13 strikeouts and just one earned run in six innings against the Pirates, including blowing a 96-mph fastball past Garrett Jones with the bases loaded on his 103rd and final pitch.
Strasburg’s combined numbers since returning from Tommy John surgery in September are absolutely ridiculous: 68 innings, 1.59 ERA, 75 strikeouts, 12 walks, 2 homers allowed, .189 opponents’ batting average.
He’s lost a little bit of velocity, averaging 95.7 miles per hour with his fastball compared to 97.3 mph before surgery, but even 95.7 mph is the fastest fastball in baseball by a relatively wide margin this season. He also leads baseball in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings. Oh, and even after sitting out nearly an entire calendar year after going under the knife Strasburg is still two months shy of his 24th birthday.
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.