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Michael Fulmer could miss World Baseball Classic with sprained ankle

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Tigers’ right-hander Michael Fulmer might not make it to the World Baseball Classic this year. The 23-year-old sprained his right ankle during agility drills on Saturday and is expected to miss his next spring training start on Monday. According to manager Brad Ausmus, the sprain will likely prevent Fulmer from reaching the necessary pitch counts to play for Team USA later this month.

MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports that the sprain is classified as a Grade 1 injury, which shouldn’t affect the righty’s chances of making the roster by Opening Day. As far as the WBC is concerned, Fulmer’s involvement depends on Team USA advancing beyond the first round, as he’s been named to a Designated Pitcher Pool that the team can only draw from in subsequent rounds of the tournament.

Beck adds that pitchers in the second round can toss up to 80 pitches, with an additional 65 pitches in the third round. Fulmer, meanwhile, has thrown a total of 19 pitches in three innings during spring training so far. The Tigers are understandably inclined to take a conservative approach with the right-hander, who turned out a 3.06 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 159 innings with the club during his award-winning rookie campaign in 2016.

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.