Italian Sausage Wins, and other observations from Maryvale Park

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Like I said: they have a bit of Milwaukee here:

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It was a nice enough day, though a little sleepy. The Brewers have so many people away at the WBC that even their home lineup looked a lot like a road lineup for most spring training games. Something called Scooter Gennett led off. Because every single Brewers first baseman since Cecil Cooper is injured, Alex Gonzalez played first base — and made some sweet plays there. The always-intimidating Khris Davis hit cleanup. As I’m typing this it’s tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh. The most notable event involved an apparent injury to Dbacks’ leadoff hitter Tony Campana, who stole second base in the first inning and left the game when he was apparently spiked.

Beyond that: not the sort of game where you could tell anything about either team. It seems like we’re getting more of those as the WBC gears up and players are realizing that they still have over three weeks of spring training to get through. The initial enthusiasm has waned a bit.

But it’s still baseball. And in my last full day here tomorrow I plan to take in two more games. One as press, one as a fan. With the expected reports to follow.

OK, they just did the seventh inning stretch. Easily the most enthusiastic crowd participation since I’ve been here, followed by the de riguer “Beer Barrel Polka.”  So not everyone is flagging.


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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.