Rockies close to free agent agreement with Jeff Francis

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From Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post comes word that the Rockies are “close to signing” lefty Jeff Francis “and he will likely start Saturday’s game when the Rockies host the Angels.”

Francis hasn’t appeared in a major league game this season and wasn’t very good in 2011 for Kansas City, but the Rox are desperate for starting pitching due to a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness.

Francis asked for and was granted his release by Cincinnati earlier this week after posting a decent 3.72 ERA and 65/18 K/BB ratio across 77 1/3 innings (12 starts) for the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky. The 31-year-old southpaw owns a 4.78 career ERA and 1.43 career WHIP in over 1,000 major league innings — 882 2/3 of which came with Colorado.

He’ll be accepting a minor league deal to rejoin a Rockies organization that picked him ninth overall in ’02.

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.