We heard late last month that Chase Utley was starting to take some grounders at third base to see if he could be an option at the position at some point down the road. The experiment could begin pretty soon.
After Utley worked out at third base again this afternoon at Citi Field, manager Charlie Manuel told John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com that he hasn’t ruled out the possibility that the 33-year-old could play there in a game before the end of the season.
“We could,” Manuel said. “It depends on where we are. The next week will tell us where we are, probably … We’re going to run out of season pretty soon.”
In other words, the Phillies aren’t going to mess around if they feel like they are still in the race. However, after dropping three out of four games to the lowly Astros, the playoffs are suddenly looking like a remote possibility. It might not be long before they start looking ahead to 2013.
While there have been some concerns about Utley’s arm strength, Manuel believes a move to third base could help ease the burden on his knees. If he makes the switch next season, Freddy Galvis would likely take over as the starting second baseman. Galvis showed earlier this year that he was up to the task defensively, but he batted just .226/.254/.363 with a .617 OPS and 29/7 K/BB ratio in 200 plate appearances.
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.