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The Texas Rangers: “The Best Culture in Baseball”

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The Rangers signed Andrew Cashner to a one-year deal on Monday. They had been trying to land him for a while. Meanwhile Cashner, a Texas native who went to TCU, has long been interested in Texas. Everyone always says nice things right after a contract is signed, but the words from both the club and the player this week are particularly effusive.

For Cashner’s part, he said something which, I suspect, will become a recurring theme with the Rangers:

“The biggest thing for me is getting to come to what somebody told me the other day is the best culture in baseball,” Cashner said. “That sets the tone for winning.”

It may not always be a welcome recurring theme. Ask Cardinals fans how much they enjoy the whole “Best Fans in Baseball” thing (hint: they really, really, don’t). It has a way of taking on a life of its own and becoming the source of mocking more than anything.

So, the next time the Rangers are reported to be experiencing a bit of clubhouse drama or find themselves on the wrong end of some unwritten rules controversy — especially if it involves Cashner, which it very well might — expect the whole “Best Culture in Baseball” thing to come back again.

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.