EditorsNote: Denoted home team/added period at end of lede graf
Mike Fiers faced the minimum over eight innings Friday night, teaming with Chris Bassitt on a two-hit shutout as the host Oakland Athletics opened a three-game series against the Texas Rangers with an 8-0 victory.
Chad Pinder and Mark Canha belted home runs for the A’s (93-61), who remained two games ahead of Tampa Bay (91-63) and Cleveland (91-63) in the three-team battle for the American League’s two wild-card playoff spots.
Texas (74-80) lost its sixth straight.
Fiers (15-4), who had to be pulled from his last start in the second inning because of numbness in his right hand, demonstrated he’s back to full health with his 95-pitch masterpiece.
He allowed a leadoff single in the first inning to Shin-Soo Choo and a one-out hit to Delino DeShields in the third, but both were eliminated on the bases, Choo on a double-play grounder and DeShields on a pickoff.
In running his career record in Oakland to 13-3, Fiers retired the last 16 batters he faced. He finished with five strikeouts and no walks.
Bassitt, who accepted a demotion to the bullpen so that the A’s could return to a five-man rotation for the stretch run, made his 2019 relief debut with a 1-2-3 ninth that featured two strikeouts.
The A’s gave Fiers all the support he would need when Pinder smacked his 13th homer of the season in the second inning, a three-run shot that also scored Ramon Laureano, who had singled, and Sean Murphy, who had walked.
Oakland edged away on RBI doubles by Canha in the third and Marcus Semien in the fourth, then went up 6-0 in the fifth on Canha’s 25th homer of the season.
Rangers starter Mike Minor (13-10) was taken out after five innings, charged with six runs on six hits. He walked four and struck out three.
Laureano had an RBI single in the seventh inning, and Matt Chapman scored on a wild pitch in the eighth.
Pinder, Canha and Laureano had two hits apiece for Oakland, which won for the ninth time in its past 10 games.
The shutout was the Athletics’ 11th of the season.
—Field Level Media