D-Backs players stand up for manager Kirk Gibson, GM Kevin Towers

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Following Tuesday’s loss to the Cubs, the Diamondbacks fell to 5-18, worst in baseball. They had lost 10 of their previous 11 games and had the worst run differential in baseball, by far, at -62.

They are now on a three-game winning streak, but still have a .663 OPS which ranks in the bottom-third of the National League. Their 6.49 rotation ERA is by far the worst, and the 21 errors they’ve committed ties for the third-worst in the league.

Knowing that, it’s not surprising that the D-Backs players stood up for manager Kirk Gibson and GM Kevin Towers as they faced increased scrutiny with the awful start. Via Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona:

“The kind of start we got off to, I don’t know if you can explain it other than we have just played horribly,”  veteran third baseman Eric Chavez said. “It’s completely on the players. We take full responsibility for our lack of production on the field. We have to get it done in here, in this clubhouse.”

[…]

“I think sometimes there is too much blame that goes in other directions. You have to look at the players, because they are the ones who are playing,” Chavez said. “The numbers don’t lie. Whatever categories we are falling into has nothing to do with ‘Gibby’ or anybody. If somebody wants to pass that on” and blame someone else, “there is going to be some issues with that, because you have to look at yourself as a player.”

Chavez wasn’t the only one to speak up. Catcher Miguel Montero said that blame shouldn’t be cast on Gibson and Towers because “they don’t play the game for us”. Second baseman Aaron Hill said he and his teammates shouldn’t be pressing as much. Although their players came to their defense, Towers’ and Gibson’s seats should continue to be hot for the duration of the season. Non-player personnel are always the first to go when a team doesn’t live up to expectations.

Sean Manaea pitches the 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.