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Game #112: Cardinals Can’t Cool Fiers Down

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Nearly securing his 14th straight quality start, Mike Fiers once again delivered a win to Oakland.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Oakland Athletics Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

In one of my first recaps of the year, after a 10-1 loss the the Blue Jays at home, I heavily questioned whether Mike Fiers could survive a full season throwing a 90 mph fastball. In retrospect, that wasn’t a great take. Plenty of pitchers — like another one of tonight’s standouts, Yusmeiro Petit — get by and even have success despite a softer arsenal. It really was just a matter of time before Fiers would keep more of his flyballs in the park.

And that’s exactly what happened. Carrying a 15.7% HR/FB rate leading up to his no-hitter, Fiers has only allowed 8.9% of his flyballs to leave the park since. Tonight was no different as he only allowed a few balls to get to the warning track, with only one looking even remotely dangerous. That one you might remember as the defensive play of the night, which had Stephen Piscotty in his first game back making a nice jumping catch at the wall. After getting hit by the first pitch he saw, it was satisfying to see Piscotty get some real action.

But now back to Fiers. Outside of Matt Chapman, I’d argue he’s been the team’s most valuable player, right up there with flashier players like Olson, Semien, and Hendriks. He threw 13 consecutive quality starts, one of which was a no-hitter, and he would’ve had his 14th tonight if not for a quick hook from BoMel. After feeling some buyer’s remorse at the beginning of year, I think most of Athletics Nation would agree that the Fiers’ contract is one of the shrewdest and savviest moves the A’s have made over the past few years. I don’t care if his style doesn’t play well in hitters’ parks; the A’s better give him the Wild Card game this year!

If you’ve gotten this far and haven’t seen the game, you probably think Mike Fiers got this win all on his own. But fortunately for him, as per usual, he got a ton of support on the offensive end. From the bottom to the top, nearly everyone contributed tonight (I’m lookin’ at you, Profar). Whether it was Olson taking a walk to load the bases, Semien running hard to third on a sac fly only to score the next run on a wild pitch, or Mark Canha driving in a pair with a clutch 2-out RBI single, the A’s lineup did all the little things tonight to score 8 runs against a standout rookie pitcher and one of the league’s top bullpens.

Chad Pinder, however, didn’t do a little thing tonight when he came off the bench. No, no. He thought to himself that the only thing missing on a night full of terrific Oakland baseball was a loud pinch-hit, three-run shot to left field. Only a home run could enhance what was already such a joyous and fun game.

Tomorrow, the A’s are looking for the two-game sweep of the Cardinals, but more importantly, it’s Tanner Roark’s first start in Oakland. I have him on both of my fantasy teams, so I already know he’s good, but now A’s fans will get to see first-hand what he’s made of.