Clayton Kershaw throws first no-hitter; misses perfect game by an error

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It was baseball’s best pitcher at his absolute best Wednesday night, as Clayton Kershaw struck out a career-high 15 in a no-hitter against the Rockies.

The only Colorado hitter to reach base in the game was Corey Dickerson on a soft grounder to shortstop in the seventh. Hanley Ramirez, who was iffy to start tonight because of an injured finger on his throwing hand, charged it well, but then threw wide of first base for the error. Ramirez ended up coming out of the 8-0 game for defense after the inning.

Kershaw entered the ninth at 101 pitches, but he got an easy grounder from D.J. LaMahieu on his first pitch of the frame and a popup from Charlie Culberson on the second. He then struck out Dickerson on four pitches to end it.

Kershaw joined teammate Josh Beckett as the only pitchers to throw no-hitters so far this year. Beckett got his May 25 against the Phillies. They became the first set of teammates to throw no-hitters in the same season since Burt Hooton and Milt Pappas did so for the Cubs in 1972.

Kershaw topped his previous high of 13 strikeouts established April 15, 2009 against the Giants. It was his eighth career shutout and first in 10 starts this season.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.