His season totals are still way below his usual standards, but Albert Pujols is back to being one of the best hitters in baseball and has been for more than a month now.
Pujols had a .194 batting average and zero homers through 27 games. Then he homered against the Blue Jays on May 6 and since then he’s hit .308 with nine homers, eight doubles, 31 RBIs, nearly as many walks (14) as strikeouts (15), and a .942 OPS in 33 games.
Pujols hit .328 with a 1.037 OPS in 11 seasons for the Cardinals, so even his post-May 6 production hasn’t quite been at that level, but switching from the NL to the AL and offense being down across baseball makes the gap seem wider than it probably is.
Last year, for instance, Pujols hit .299 with a .906 OPS and those were both career-worst marks. Because of his terrible first six weeks he’ll have an extremely hard time reaching even those season totals, but with the Angels winning 14 of their last 18 games and Pujols being his usual self again we’ve probably seen the last of those “is Albert Pujols washed up?” stories.
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.