The Indians jinxed Cliff Lee

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Some folks are wondering if the Indians’ own people had a hand in breaking up Cliff Lee’s no-hitter on Sunday night:

In the eighth inning Sunday night, Cliff Lee took the mound with a
no-hitter against St. Louis. While he was warming up, the Indians’
in-house announcer, appearing on the Progressive Field scoreboard,
asked a fan this trivia question: “Who was the last Indians pitcher to
throw a perfect game?”

The answer was Lenny Barker on May 15, 1981. The question was
scripted before the game to follow the team’s “turn back the clock”
promotion to the 1980s, but considering the circumstances, perhaps
another question should have been asked. Yadier Molina hit Lee’s first
pitch of the inning for a double into the right-field corner. Bye-bye
no-hitter.

There’s no outrage or anything, but Indians’ manager Eric Wedge and
pitching coach Carl Willis are quoted acknowledging the taboo against
talking about a no-hitter in progress and mildly lamenting the question
on the board.

I’m not a superstitious guy and I think most baseball superstitions
are pretty silly. My view: since there are very, very few no-hitters,
current practices must not be optimized. I suggest that we conduct a
double-blind test, ordering the non-pitchers from half of the teams to
bring up the fact of in-progress no-hitters during games, and the other
half to maintain the current no-talk system. After, say, two or three
years, we’ll have sufficient no-hitter data to know which approach is
more successful.

Maybe we can even get a grant to study such a thing.

Cardinals extend José Martínez through 2020

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First baseman/outfielder José Martínez agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Saturday, per a team announcement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Martínez will receive $3.25 million in the deal plus incentives if he earns a more stable place within the starting lineup.

Martínez, 30, played 887 games in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals at the tail end of the 2016 season. The veteran first baseman has been nothing but productive in the three years since his debut, however, and turned in a career-best performance in 2018 after slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 plate appearances. While he brings some positional flexibility to the table, he’ll be forced to compete against Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill for a full-time gig in right field this year, as Paul Goldschmidt currently has a lock on first base.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the extension wasn’t solely precipitated by Martínez’s productivity in the majors, but by a competing offer from an unnamed Japanese team over the offseason. Goold adds that Martínez would have earned “significantly more than he would in the majors” had the club sold his rights. In the end, they ultimately elected to ink him to a more lucrative deal themselves. He’ll be eligible for arbitration in 2020.