OAKLAND -- It only seems fitting that it would take a historic performance to slow Boston's historic start to the season.The Red Sox were looking to become the sixth team in the modern era to win 18 of its first 20 games, but instead, history took the form of A's
OAKLAND -- It only seems fitting that it would take a historic performance to slow Boston's historic start to the season.
The Red Sox were looking to become the sixth team in the modern era to win 18 of its first 20 games, but instead, history took the form of A's left-hander Sean Manaea in a 3-0 loss to Oakland on Saturday night at the Coliseum. Manaea tied a career high with 10 strikeouts and allowed only four baserunners as he tossed the 12th no-hitter in A's history.
It was the first no-hitter pitched against the Red Sox since Seattle's Chris Bosio blanked Boston on April 22, 1993. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Red Sox, at 17-2 (.895), had the best record in MLB history by a team that was no-hit (minimum: five games into a season). The previous record was held by the Giants, who were 18-5 (.783) when they were no-hit by the Phillies' Kevin Millwood on April 27, 2003.
"We're human. We haven't been acting like that for very long, but hey, when it's someone's night, it's their night," Red Sox starter Chris Sale said. "Manaea had really good stuff and was spot-on the whole night. I mean, you've got to tip your cap to him. When it's your night, it's your night."
Every no-hitter is a tremendous accomplishment, but for Manaea to achieve this feat against this seemingly unstoppable Boston lineup was particularly special.
The Red Sox had entered the game leading the Majors in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. They had recorded at least 10 hits in each of their last seven games. Their plus-70 run differential through 19 games had been the second-best for any team during the live-ball era.
But Boston had no answers against Manaea, particularly in the face of an unexpected wrinkle: a much-improved changeup that the Red Sox hadn't expected the A's pitcher to throw so often, particularly against lefties.
"He's usually fastball in, slider away," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Manaea. "He started throwing changeups a lot better than last year that I remember. Better location, less velocity. He actually pitched today. Last year, he was throwing the ball. He was just throwing."
Manaea threw changeups on 32 of his 108 pitches and recorded 10 outs with the pitch, including a pair of strikeouts of the left-handed Jackie Bradley Jr.
Manaea had all three of his pitches working effectively, and according to Cora, the Boston lineup lost its discipline and expanded the strike zone more than the Red Sox manager had seen in the past.
"He was ahead with every pitch," Cora said. "It didn't matter: fastball, changeup and slider. But with two strikes, instead of going to his slider, he used his changeup more. That's why he threw a no-no."
The only blemishes on Manaea's pitching line were two walks: one to Mookie Betts to start the game, and one to Andrew Benintendi with two outs in the ninth. But the Red Sox also came close to breaking up the no-hit bid twice.
In the fifth inning, Sandy Leon hit a high popup into shallow left-center, and A's shortstop Marcus Semien tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch. The ball hit off his glove and then his bare hand and fell to the ground. It wasn't the easiest play for Semien to make, but it was ruled an error.
"The only thing I can control is what I do on the field," Leon said. "Whatever decision is made after … I can do nothing about that. Whatever decision they make, I respect that."
One inning later, Benintendi hit a soft grounder up the first-base line, and it was initially ruled that he had avoided the tag of first baseman Matt Olson for an infield hit. But after a lengthy conference between the umpires, home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt reversed his call, ruling that Benintendi was out of the baseline, preserving the no-hit bid.
"I don't know. I've never seen that call before," Benintendi said. "It's kind of suspect in that situation. It [stinks]. It's a big league hit, and they don't grow on trees."
But in the end, it's also a testament to Manaea's performance that his two closest calls came on a swinging bunt and a pop fly. Boston simply couldn't make solid contact against the left-hander all night. At the end of the day, all Cora could do was offer a tip of the cap.
"I think we barreled three balls," Cora said. "[Eduardo] Nunez hit the ball hard twice, and then Mookie [Betts] on the last one. It was his night. He was amazing."
Manaea's performance snapped a streak of 3,987 games in which Boston had not been no-hit. That was the second-longest active streak in the Majors, second to, coincidentally, the A's. Oakland's streak now stands at 4,242 games.
HE SAID IT
"He threw a no-hitter, so he must have been doing something right out there. I know I keep saying it over and over, but when it's your night, it's your night. It's going to be hard to stop guys like that. It's like when Hanley gets locked in. You can throw him anything. Any pitcher on the mound can throw him any pitch at any given time. He's just going to rake it. It's just how it goes. When it's your night, it's your night. And like I said, the baseball gods just carry you through." -- Sale, on Manaea's performance
In his last outing against the Angels on Tuesday, David Price showed no lingering effects of the numbness in his throwing hand that cut short his previous start in New York. Price pitched five strong innings against two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani in that start on Tuesday, and will make his fifth start of the season against Daniel Mengden and the A's in Sunday's 4:05 p.m ET series finale.
Do-Hyoung Park is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.