EditorsNote: update 2: adds Fiers quotes
Oakland Athletics right-hander Mike Fiers threw the major leagues’ first no-hitter of the year Tuesday night, blanking the visiting Cincinnati Reds 2-0 in the opener of a three-game interleague series.
In recording the second no-hitter of his career, the A’s ace threw 131 pitches and faced just two batters over the minimum, allowing two walks. A third Cincinnati batter also reached base on an error, but one of the Reds’ baserunners was erased on a double play.
“Amazing, that’s really all I can say,” Fiers said. “I could be working a 9-to-5 (job) and doing so many other things. Playing this game, I’m blessed.”
The no-hitter was the majors’ first since James Paxton did the trick on the Toronto Blue Jays for the Seattle Mariners almost one year ago to the day, May 8, 2018. He became the 35th pitcher to record multiple no-hitters, counting the regular season and postseason.
It was the 300th no-hitter in major league history, counting the postseason.
Fiers’ previous no-hitter was recorded on Aug. 21, 2015, for the Houston Astros in a 3-0 interleague victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 10 and walked three that day.
There had been just seven no-hitters since then, including two by Jake Arrieta, one against the Reds on April 21, 2016.
Another in that span was recorded by Oakland left-hander Sean Manaea against the Boston Red Sox on April 21, 2018.
The start of the historic game was delayed 1 hour, 38 minutes because of a malfunctioning light standard in left field.
“I’m just glad they got those lights working,” Fiers said. “That could have been a bummer.”
The late start was nothing new to the Reds, who were coming off a four-game home series in which they hit 15 home runs and scored 37 runs against the San Francisco Giants. The Sunday game in Cincinnati was delayed several minutes while a swarm of bees was removed from the home-plate area.
The inconvenience didn’t seem to bother Fiers (3-3), who had started two combined shutouts among his four previous home starts this inning.
The 33-year-old retired the first 11 Reds in order before an error on A’s third baseman Matt Chapman allowed Cincinnati’s first baserunner.
Unfazed, Fiers then set down the next seven before walking Eugenio Suarez to lead off the seventh inning. Fiers also walked Yasiel Puig two batters later, but in between got Jesse Winker to ground into a double play.
Puig was stranded when Fiers got Derek Dietrich to foul out.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said that he told Fiers after the seventh inning that he would make a pitching change if another batter reached base. Fiers made sure Melvin didn’t have to take that step.
The A’s provided Fiers the only run he would need in the second inning Jurickson Profar’s two-out double scored Stephen Piscotty from first base.
Reds starter Tyler Mahle (0-5) was pulled from a 1-0 game after six innings, having allowed just three hits. He walked one and struck out eight.
Profar added an insurance run in the seventh with his third home run of the season, off Reds reliever Robert Stephenson.
Fiers retired the side in order in the eighth and ninth innings, striking out Suarez on a 2-2 curveball in the dirt to finish it off. He began the night with a 6.81 ERA and lowered it to 5.48.
The A’s made some dazzling defensive plays behind Fiers to keep his no-no intact.
In the top of the sixth, with the A’s nursing a 1-0 lead, Votto hit a long fly ball to left-center field in spacious Oakland Coliseum that center fielder Ramon Laureano nabbed at the top of the fence, possibly saving a home run.
One batter earlier, Profar ran from second base and made a diving catch going back into shallow right field to catch a popup off the bat of Kyle Farmer.
Coming off an Eastern swing on which they won just one of nine games, the A’s managed just five hits on the night. Profar had two.
—Field Level Media