Sears takes no-hitter into 7th as A's shut out Rangers

April 11th, 2024

ARLINGTON -- In one of the best of his 46 career Major League starts, A’s lefty flirted with a no-hitter for six-plus innings as the A’s edged the Rangers 1-0 in their series finale at Globe Life Field on Thursday.

Sears tossed 6 1/3 scoreless, hitless innings before Adolis García’s ringing single to left with one out in the seventh. Though Sears had the no-no going, he also had the problem of an already-inflated pitch count; the García single turned out to be Sears’ 88th and final pitch of the day. He threw 56 strikes.

“That start was great,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “You could just see the composure today. When he did have a leadoff walk, he got back in the zone, he got the ground ball, he got the double play -- that’s the maturation we’re looking for from these type of young starters.”

The only flaw in Sears’ line Thursday was walks. He issued three -- to the leadoff hitters in the first, second and fifth innings -- making him work with a runner on base almost half the time. Timely strikeouts -- he had five total -- and a double play in the fifth helped Sears get out of those jams.

“Those are not fun ways to start innings, but I think it just said a lot about today about how I pitched, pitching through those leadoff walks and then being able to limit the damage they make when guys get on base,” Sears said.

Control issues aside, Thursday’s outing was easily Sears’ most polished effort this season. He foundered in his 2024 debut against the Guardians, allowing five earned runs in only 3 2/3 innings. Sears improved in his second start, surrendering four earned runs to the Tigers in 5 2/3 innings. But he gave up six hits in each of those starts.

Sears said the zeroes on the scoreboard -- especially in the hits column -- had crept into his mind by the fourth or fifth inning, but he tried to stay focused on the small picture.

“It’s definitely something that is hard to ignore,” Sears said. “But pitch by pitch, you don’t think about it when you’re out there. I’m out there just trying to get guys out. It was one of those days where execution was the big factor.”

Knowing that a no-hitter, or even a shutout, would likely require an uncomfortable number of pitches out of Sears, Kotsay still wasn’t ready to give him the hook.

“At that point in the sixth, 80 pitches, you kind of get a pretty good idea that if this was going to happen, it was going to probably be 100-plus,” Kotsay said. “To do that early in the year, it would have put a lot of stress on him. But at the same point, you know the momentum of the game and the starter being dominant, I was really just waiting [until] that first hit.”

Offensively, in a game all but devoid of fireworks, Oakland left fielder Seth Brown provided the one spark that propelled the A’s to victory: a leadoff homer in the second inning against Rangers starter Jon Gray, who was otherwise dominant in five innings. Gray struck out nine, scattering three hits and one walk.

With two wins in three games in Arlington, the A’s have won back-to-back series for the first time since July of last season. They’ve won four of five games for the first time since last September.

“We’re just trying to win the day every day,” Sears said. “When you’re kind of counted out, it’s pretty easy to just put your head down and work hard and do your job. That’s the kind of attitude we have here.”

Another first for the A’s
In the third inning, catcher became the latest member of the A’s to collect his first Major League hit. He joined teammate Darell Hernaiz, who achieved the feat the night before. McCann, a fourth-round pick out of Georgia Tech in 2019, had his parents, grandparents and cousins in attendance for the milestone.

“Dream come true,” McCann said. “I’ve had that envisioned in my mind my whole life.”