In a day and age in which managers dare not even use their best relief pitchers in relief situations while on the road because, oh heavens, that would be INSANE, it’s not likely anyone is going to go super radical with the staff to start a game.
But Dave Cameron has a pretty wild suggestion for teams facing the one-game wild card play-in: start with the back end of the bullpen — your team’s best pitchers on a batter-per-batter basis — and work backwards. Ensure that the opposition doesn’t score early and then see where you are from there.
It’s an interesting idea. Fun, in fact. Even though (a) it creates late inning problems, as the manager would have to decide which starter would close the game, which tends to unnerve people; and (b) I can’t feature any manager in the game today having the stones to try it because if it blows up it’s gonna be a HUGE story.
But again, fun to think about.
UPDATE (11:25 PM ET): Manaea delivered a nearly-flawless ninth inning to complete his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox on Saturday night. He collected the first two outs of the inning in quick succession with a groundout from Blake Swihart and fly out from Mookie Betts, then walked Andrew Benintendi on seven pitches. With a pitch count of just 108, he got Hanley Ramirez to ground into a force out for the final out of the game, polishing off the A’s 12th no-hitter in franchise history and first of the 2018 season.
Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea has no-hit the Red Sox through eight innings of Saturday’s game. 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 held the Sox to just three total baserunners through the first eight innings.
Andrew Benintendi tried to break up the no-no in the sixth inning, collecting an infield hit for what appeared to be the Red Sox’ first hit of the evening. Upon further review, however, the hit was reversed after Benintendi incurred a batter interference call for running outside the baseline.
Manaea is currently working with 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. He’s racked up a career-high 10 strikeouts against 26 batters so far.
If Manaea sees the no-hitter through to completion — as seems entirely possible, given that his pitch count is resting at 95 entering the ninth — he’ll be 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, meanwhile, was back in 1993 against the Mariners’ Chris Bosio.