OAKLAND -- Baseball's best was in town, but it didn't matter. A hot-hitting Red Sox squad, winners of eight straight games, would not shake Sean Manaea. Not much can these days.
The A's left-hander has been dealing, dominating with ease, and on Saturday he turned it up a notch, brilliantly orchestrating the seventh no-hitter in Oakland A's history for a momentous 3-0 victory within the confines of the Coliseum.
An infectious smile was plastered on his face following the final out, his teammates clobbering him in celebration. Manaea's work has been superb this season, but never better than it was on this night.
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"Honestly, it still doesn't feel real," Manaea said. "Even after the last out, I couldn't imagine throwing a no-hitter in the big leagues, especially against a team like the Red Sox. It's incredible. I don't even know what to say."
Twice the no-no was in jeopardy -- once because of an error that could have been ruled a hit, once because of a hit that was later ruled an out. But it ultimately stayed intact.
Thus a masterful 108-pitch display spoke volumes about one of the game's burgeoning pitching stars. Manaea has long been regarded as an elite talent, but only now is he coming into his own, healthy and oozing confidence.
Taking the mound against a Red Sox club that was victorious in 17 of its first 19 games and averaging more than six runs per game, he breezed through its big hitters, racking up a career-high-tying 10 strikeouts in the process of scripting history.
"When you have a no-hitter, it's special, regardless, but probably a little bit more based on the fact that these guys don't lose and have been swinging the bat so well," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You look up and down the lineup and it seems like everybody is hitting over .330."
Manaea walked his first batter, Mookie Betts, and wouldn't issue another until there were two outs in the ninth. That's when a free pass to Andrew Benintendi brought Hanley Ramirez to the plate. The A's bullpen was quickly abuzz, and closer Blake Treinen went to work while Manaea attempted to finish his gem without fuss. He fell behind Ramirez, 2-0, but used his mighty changeup to induce a game-ending ground-ball forceout, secured by second baseman Jed Lowrie.
It's the 12th no-hitter in A's franchise history and the first since southpaw Dallas Braden, who was on hand to interview Manaea for the postgame broadcast, twirled a perfect game against the Rays on May 9, 2010.
"I told him earlier, look, I've caught a lot of great pitchers in this game, and that was the most well-pitched, well-executed game I've ever had behind the plate," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said.
Following the game's leadoff walk, Manaea retired each of his next 14 hitters in succession. Sandy Leon reached base with two outs in the fifth after shortstop Marcus Semien fumbled a popup, but Manaea -- who at the time believed the error to be a hit -- responded with a strikeout of Jackie Bradley Jr.
Not until the eighth inning did he realize the no-hitter was still intact.
"I looked and saw that there was still a zero and I was like, whoa, weird," Manaea said. "Coming out for the ninth, my heart was beating out of my chest and I was trying to do everything I could to stay calm and not overdo things."
The Red Sox were temporarily awarded a hit in the sixth inning when Benintendi reached base on an infield single. The umpiring crew huddled and, after a lengthy chat, decided that Benintendi had run out of the baseline, ruling him out and keeping history in play. More >
Manaea maintained his momentum, keeping the Red Sox off-balance with a changeup and a slider that play off his fastball, a mix of three plus pitches that have guided him to a 1.23 ERA. He's allowed one run or fewer in four of his five outings and completed at least seven innings on four occasions, Saturday's outing being the first nine-inning complete game of his career.
Last year, he posted a 4.37 ERA in 29 games, too often bogged down by the mental game.
"He came into camp trying to prove a point that he's a top-of-the-rotation guy and that the second half of last year didn't sit very well with him," Melvin said. "He's doing things a little differently. We saw when he was really dominating with all the swings-and-misses, throwing 96 mph, and now it's different as far as the velo goes, but the pitch complement is so much better, his location is so much better, and he still has so much deception with his delivery. It's special"
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A's hitters did their part against a tough customer, becoming the first club this year to score more than one run against Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale, who yielded three in seven innings. Stephen Piscotty and Jed Lowrie notched RBI doubles, and Semien homered and scored all three runs in support of Manaea.
The Red Sox at 17-2 (.895) had the best record in MLB history by a team that was no-hit (minimum of five games into a season), according to Elias. The previous record was held by the Giants, who were 18-5 (.783) when they were no-hit by Kevin Millwood on April 27, 2003.
HE SAID IT
"It comes down to preparation and wanting to do better, wanting to do good. First couple years, I wasn't really doing much to prepare myself. I was just going out there and hoping I would throw a good game and hoping that I would throw strikes.I had to sit down and really figure out some things." -- Manaea
The A's will cap the homestand with a 1:05 p.m. PT matinee with the Red Sox on Sunday. Right-hander Daniel Mengden will take his turn in the rotation. He is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his last two starts after going 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA in his first two outings. Boston will send lefty David Price (2-1, 2.25 ERA) to the mound.