After a rough start to the season, Mike Fiers is pitching like an ace the Oakland Athletics expected him to be.
Fiers pitched his second career no-hitter and the 300th in MLB history to defeat the Cincinnati Reds 2-0 on Tuesday night at the Oakland Coliseum.
Fiers becomes the 35th pitcher to throw two no-hitters. The 33-year-old’s first no-no was on Aug. 21, 2015 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The no-hitter is the 13th in franchise history and eighth since the team moved to Oakland in 1968.
The game was delayed 98 minutes at the start due to a lighting malfunction in left field. Fiers finally threw the first pitch at 8:45 p.m.
Tonight’s game has been temporarily delayed due to a lighting malfunction in left field. Stay tuned for more details.— Oakland A’s (@Athletics) May 8, 2019
Fiers retired the first 11 batters before Jesse Winker reached on an error by Matt Chapman. Winker sent a grounder up the middle. Chapman ranged to his left, but the ball bounced off the heel of his glove. The official scorer could have ruled it a hit, but Chapman is a Platinum Glover for a reason.
Fiers retired the next seven batters after the error before walking Eugenio Suarez on seven pitches to start the seventh. But Suarez was quickly erased on a 4-6-3 double play.
Fiers issued another walk to Puig, but Derek Dietrich popped out to Chapman to end the inning.
At this point, Fiers was already at 109 pitches and Lou Trivino was warming up in the bullpen. But Fiers needed only nine pitches to get through the eighth.
Fiers opened the ninth by inducing a pop out from pinch-hitter Josh VanMeter. For the final two outs, Fiers had to navigate through two of the premier power hitters, Votto and Suarez.
After falling behind 3-1, Fiers threw a strike before getting Votto to ground out to first baseman Matt Olson.
The final hurdle for Fiers was Suarez, who leads the Reds with 10 homers and 23 RBIs.
Fiers got a called strike one on an 88.1 mph fastball. Suarez fouled off a 90.2 mph fastball for strike two.
After two extremely high fastballs that Suarez didn’t chase, Fiers threw his best curveball of the night. Suarez never had a chance and the celebration was on.
Fiers threw 88 of 134 pitches for strikes against the Dodgers. He threw 83 of 131 pitches against the Reds. Fiers struck out six and lowered his ERA to 5.48.
No-hitters and perfect games are always preserved by great defensive plays. There were two in this game and they occurred on back-to-back pitches with one out in the sixth.
First, it was the much-maligned Jurickson Profar laying out for a diving catch on a popup into no man’s land in right by Kyle Farmer.
On the next pitch, Ramon Laureano made a leaping catch over the wall in left-center to rob a game-tying homer from Votto. Laureano made the play a few feet away from where he robbed Teoscar Hernandez of the Toronto Blue Jays 17 days ago.
The offense did just enough for Fiers, scoring a run off starter Tyler Mahle in the second and Martinez native Robert Stephenson in the seventh.
With two outs and Stephen Piscotty on first, Profar lined a double down the right field line. The ball got past Yasiel Puig and rolled around in the corner.
Puig finally retrieved the ball and threw a strike to the cutoff man Votto, who relayed another strike to catcher Tucker Barnhart. The throw beat Piscotty to the plate, but Barnhart overreached, allowing Piscotty to slide home safely behind the tag.
Profar added an insurance run in the seventh with his third homer of the season. Stephenson left an 0-1 fastball down in the zone and Profar launched it over the wall in right-center.
Mahle allowed one run on three hits, walked one and struck out eight in six innings. The 24-year-old dropped to 0-5 despite a solid 3.69 ERA. The Reds have provided Mahle with no run support (1.62) in his seven starts.
Olson returned after missing 34 games with a right thumb injury. The Gold Glover went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
Fiers’ pitching counterpart for his first no-hitter was his now-teammate Brett Anderson. Anderson will start against the Reds on Wednesday.
WP: Mike Fiers (3-3, 5.48)
LP: Tyler Mahle (0-5, 3.69)