The Rays had no choice Friday but to start pondering the ignominy that would come with having a perfect game, or a no-hitter, thrown against them as they went 18 up and 18 down through the first six innings against Oakland’s Sean Manaea.
“It’s hard not to,” Mike Brosseau said. “You get later in the game, the fifth, sixth inning, and you kind of replay the game in your head and kind of notice there’s some zeroes on the scoreboard. It definitely pops in your head.”
The Rays ended the perfect game when Randy Arozarena drew a leadoff walk in the seventh. And they broke up the no-hitter, somewhat fittingly, in the eighth when Brosseau, a teammate of Manaea’s for a year at Andrean High School in Merrillville, Ind., smacked a leadoff double. They even got another hit and a run to tie the score.
But they ended up losing 2-1 in the end as Seth Brown hit a walkoff homer off Jeffrey Springs with two outs in the ninth, snapping their five-game win streak.
“It’s tough,” Springs said. “I feel like our guys grinded all night. I had a job to do to keep us right there, give us another chance. I made a bad pitch and he got me. It sucks, but it is what it is.”
Brosseau took some solace in breaking up the no-hit bid, though it may lead to him having to pick up the tab when he and Manaea have their usual offseason get-together.
“We made a little eye contact at second base,” Brosseau said. “It was definitely something there, a little smirk, a little back and forth. I would hope to think of if there was a guy to break it up he’d want it to be me. But I know he doesn’t want it to be broken up. So, yeah, there was a little eye contact there.”
As the Rays played in Oakland for the first time since winning the 2019 American League Wild Card Game, veteran lefty Rich Hill pretty much matched Manaea with his own dazzling shutout innings, allowing only two hits and two walks (leading off the first two innings) through six, throwing 55 of 79 pitches for strikes.
“Rich was outstanding, really, really good,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Took him a little bit to kind of find his rhythm. First two or three innings it seemed we had some lead-ff batters get on base, but he did a nice job of just making pitches, gave us everything, every opportunity and went kind of toe to toe with Manaea, who obviously was really, really tough tonight, really good.”
The game was scoreless until Andrew Kittredge replaced Hill in the seventh, then it quicky wasn’t. The A’s took a 1-0 lead as Jed Lowrie, who had both hits off Hill, laced a one-out double off Kittredge, then Brown, pinch-hitting, delivered a run-scoring single.
The Rays tied in the eighth when Mike Zunino, a late addition to the lineup with Francisco Mejia sidelined by soreness in his rib cage, singled in Brosseau.
Manaea got Kevin Kiermaier looking for his 10th strikeout, then was replaced by Yusmeiro Petit, having thrown 81 pitches. Willy Adames greeted him with a single, but then Petit got the Rays out.
Pete Fairbanks, in his first outing since April 6 due to a shoulder strain, overcame a leadoff single, stolen base and a wild pitch to get the Rays to the ninth, striking out three.
The Rays were one out from going to extra innings when Springs left a 1-1 slider too high and over the plate that Brown knocked over the rightfield fence.
“He left a breaking ball a little up in the zone and Brown didn’t miss it,” Cash said. “That’s the way it goes when you’re in those tight ballgames, very little margin of error.’'
Manaea, who beat the Rays on April 26 at Tropicana Field and lost the 2019 wild-card game, was dominant from the start Friday, working quickly and somewhat effortlessly, including a four-pitch fourth inning.
The Rays have been no-hit five times, and there was something ominous about Friday’s game being two days from the 11th anniversary of the perfect game thrown against them in Oakland by another lefty, Dallas Braden, on May 9, 2010.
Most recently, the Rays were blanked by Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, who threw a perfect game Aug. 15, 2012.
They also have been no-hit by by Arizona’s Edwin Jackson, on June 25, 2010; by the Chicago White Sox’s Mark Buehrle, July 23, 2009, in another perfect game; and by Boston’s Derek Lowe, April 27, 2002.
For a while Friday, it looked like there could be another.
“When a guy goes six (innings) with no hits, it’s gonna creep into your mind,” Cash said. “I’m glad we didn’t. But I think it’s natural just to appreciate how special the guy’s night was going to that point.”
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