Michael Morse got off to a huge start for the Mariners, hitting .293 with six homers in his first 10 games, but then he fractured his right pinkie finger and has struggled since returning.
Morse sat out just four days with the injury, but is 6-for-37 (.162) with zero homers and 12 strikeouts in nine games since rejoining the lineup.
Asked whether the injury was to blame for the slump, Morse admitted to Doug Miller of MLB.com that he’s not fully recovered yet but also said: “It’s not an excuse or anything. I’m not producing because of me, not my finger. I don’t look for excuses.”
Players have slumps all the time that aren’t related to injuries, of course, but if Morse says he’s not fully healthy it’s fairly natural to connect the dots. Fans and media members love to praise athletes for playing through injuries, but it’s not always so obvious that it’s a good thing for the team.
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.