Athletics-Astros: All Eyes on Oakland No-Hit Pitcher Sean Manaea

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, April 26, 2018 4:34 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 26, 2018 4:34 PM UTC

It’s almost surely not going to happen, but could Oakland pitcher Sean Manaea throw a second straight no-hitter Friday night when the A’s visit Houston?

Oakland A’s at Houston AstrosFree MLB Pick: Astros RLBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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The Oakland A’s visit the Houston Astros to open a three-game series Friday night with a first pitch of 8:10 p.m. ET from Minute Maid Park. Houston is clearly a far superior team and should win this game, but the reason we are previewing it is the miniscule chance that A’s left-hander Sean Manaea makes baseball history.

As I’m sure everyone knows, just one guy in MLB history has thrown back-to-back no-hitters. That was Cincinnati’s Johnny Vander Meer in 1938. On June 11 at the old Crosley Field in Cincinnati, he no-hit the Boston Bees, walking three and striking out four. Four days later in the first night game ever at Ebbets Field, Vander Meer no-hit the Brooklyn Dodgers, walking a whopping eight – including the bases loaded in the ninth -- while striking out seven. Four days later, Vander Meer was still pretty good against the Bees again but allowed four hits and one run.

It’s rather doubtful back-to-back no-hitters happen in this lifetime, but Manaea will give it a shot in Houston against probably the best lineup in baseball. Last Saturday, Manaea was the benefit of a couple of questionable calls but dealt the Red Sox their first no-hitter since April 22, 1993, which had been the second-longest streak in the majors. He struck out 10 (walked two), becoming the third pitcher in A’s history with double-digits strikeouts in a no-hitter, joining Dave Stewart (12 in 1990) and Catfish Hunter (11 in 1968). Only two other pitchers previously had 10-plus strikeouts in a no-hitter against the Red Sox and both are in the Hall of Fame: Walter Johnson in 1920 (10) and Jim Bunning in 1958 (12).

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Sean Manaea only allowed 2 batted balls with a hit probability greather than 50%. The hardest hit ball off him was Hanley's last batted ball of the game.

— Daren Willman (@darenw) April 22, 2018
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Pretty darn impressive outing for Manaea considering the Red Sox entered the game at an MLB-best 17-2 and were crushing opposing pitching. Entering that one, Boston had a plus-70 run differential and was on pace to score 1,049 runs this season. It had scored the most runs (123) in MLB and had the slash line (.293/.361/.497). More potential bad news for the Red Sox: No team since the 1988 Dodgers has been no-hit and then gone on to win the World Series in the same season.

Manaea is no slouch. He was the 34th overall pick by the Royals in the 2013 draft and acquired by Oakland as the key piece in Ben Zobrist trade to Kansas City in the summer of 2015. Manaea was 12-10 last year with a 4.37 ERA and 1.40 WHIP but has been one of the AL’s best pitchers in 2018 with a 3-2 record, 1.23 ERA (second in AL), 0.60 WHIP (first) and 30 strikeouts in 36.2 innings with just six walks. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned in any start.

The 26-year-old hasn’t faced Houston this season and is 1-3 career vs. the Astros with a 2.45 ERA in eight starts. Manaea has allowed 35 hits and struck out 39 in 44 innings. Carlos Correa is just 2-for-14 off him with six strikeouts. Jose Altuve 2-for-20. George Springer 4-for-19 with six strikeouts.

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Keuchel Loves April

The Astros have been a bit shaky at home of late, dropping their past two series at Minute Maid Park to the Rangers and Angels. Houston turns to lefty and former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel (1-3, 3.10) for the series opener. He had been getting zero run support until last Saturday when he was staked to an 8-0 lead after two innings at the White Sox. Keuchel would go six and allow one run and a season-low four hits for his first victory of the year.

In his career, Keuchel seems to love April as he’s 13-6 record with a 2.42 ERA in 178.1 innings with two complete games. It’s his best ERA of any month and his 13 wins in April since 2014 are second in the AL behind Boston’s Rick Porcello (14). His ERA is second to Boston’s Chris Sale.

Keuchel is 5-4 career against Oakland with a 2.59 ERA in 114.2 innings, surrendering 98 hits with 76 strikeouts and 36 walks. Jed Lowrie has seen him the most of any Oakland batter, going 12-for-41 with three doubles. Khris Davis is 1-for-15 with a homer. Matt Chapman has a homer in four at-bats.

  • Athletics are 1-4 in Manaea’s last 5 starts during game 1 of a series.
  • Athletics are 1-6 in Manaea’s last 7 starts with 5 days of rest.
  • Astros are 21-8 in Keuchel’s last 29 starts during game 1 of a series.

Oakland is just 1-6 in Manaea’s past seven vs. Houston and he seems due for a bit of a letdown here. Meanwhile, the Astros have won seven straight at home vs. the A’s with Keuchel on the mound. Houston on the runline is the Friday MLB pick.

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