Jair Jurrjens would still be in the minors right now if it wasn’t for Brandon Beachy’s Tommy John surgery, but he made the most out of his opportunity last night.
Jurrjens shined in his return to the majors by limiting the Red Sox to one run over 7 2/3 innings as part of a 4-1 victory. He walked one and struck out four and carried a one-hit shutout through the first seven innings. The only run scored on a double by Daniel Nava in the bottom of the eighth inning which chased him from the game.
Jurrjens made the National League All-Star team last year, but he was limited to just seven starts during the second half due to continued issues with his right knee. His struggles continued in the early part of this season, as he was demoted to the minors in late April after being hammered to the tune of a 9.37 ERA over his first four starts. His results weren’t much better during his time with Triple-A Gwinnett, as he had a 5.10 ERA over 10 starts.
While Jurrjens appears healthy at the moment, his velocity has been missing in action for quite some time now. Even though he was effective last night, he averaged just 89 mph on his fastball and relied heavily on his changeup. He averaged between 91-92 mph on his heater from 2007-2010. Last night was obviously an encouraging step in the right direction and a few more outings like it could lessen the sense of urgency for a trade, but he still has a lot to prove.
Tossing a no-hitter doesn’t just require physical excellence; it’s a mental feat, too. Which is why it may have helped that Athletics hurler Sean Manaea didn’t realize his no-hitter was intact until the eighth inning of Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Red Sox.
While the first few innings passed uneventfully, Sandy Leon managed to reach base in the fifth inning after skying a ball to shallow center field. It wasn’t a clean hit, of course — shortstop Marcus Semien dropped the ball on the catch and was promptly charged with an error to preserve Manaea’s no-hit bid.
That was news to Manaea, who told reporters that he didn’t realize he still had a no-hitter going until he saw the scoreboard in the eighth inning. “Until the eighth, I thought it just like was a one-hitter,” he said. “I looked up in the eighth and saw there were still zeros and was like, whoa, weird.” The delay of that realization may have calmed his nerves as he continued to blank the best team in baseball, eventually capping his 108-pitch, 10-strikeout effort in the ninth.
A few fun facts about the feat:
- Manaea’s no-hitter was the 12th of its kind in franchise history, dating back to Weldon Henley’s no-no against the St. Louis Browns in 1905.
- The most recent pitcher to do so for the A’s was fellow left-hander Dallas Braden, who completed the club’s second-ever perfect game against the Rays in 2010. Surprisingly, Manaea managed to make even more efficient use of his pitch count than Braden did during his perfecto; he fired just 108 pitches against the Red Sox, a hair under the 109 pitches used by Braden against the Rays.
- Manaea himself, however, is just the seventh Athletics pitcher (and third lefty) to toss a no-hitter. Legendary southpaw Vida Blue pitched two no-nos for the team, including a combined no-hitter that also featured Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers against the 1975 California Angels.
- Until Saturday, the Red Sox had the second-longest streak without being no-hit in the majors, at 3,987 games… a record that was only eclipsed by the A’s own streak.
- With a 17-2 record and .895 winning percentage, the Red Sox were the most successful team to be no-hit in major-league history. Prior to Saturday’s loss, they averaged 6.4 runs per game and had yet to be shut out by any team in 2018.
- Since 1908, 46 no-hitters have been pitched against AL East teams: four against the Blue Jays, five against the Rays, eight against the Yankees, 13 against the Red Sox and 16 against the Orioles. Mariners lefty Chris Bosio was the last pitcher to no-hit the Red Sox, a feat he accomplished almost exactly 25 years ago on April 22, 1993.