ANAHEIM -- High atop the list of job duties Mike Fiers was entrusted with as the A’s No. 1 starter was the expectation of providing a strong outing every fifth day. It was crucial on Thursday night, and Fiers obliged.
Coming off a night in which the A’s went through seven pitchers over nine innings, Fiers provided six quality frames on his own in a 7-4 win over the Angels at Angel Stadium. It was the fourth consecutive start in which the right-hander went at least six.
“He’s just been consistent and out there for at least six innings, sometimes more,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We really needed six out of him tonight. We had to use some guys out of the bullpen to win the game, but to get six out of him was key.”
Not only were the A’s coming off a bullpen game, they also head into Texas over the weekend to play four games in three days -- including a doubleheader on Saturday -- in a hitter-friendly ballpark where they expect to go through some bullpen arms.
“The relievers are being used a lot right now, so it’s up to us starters to go deeper in these games and be more efficient to make it easier on them,” Fiers said. “We know how good this bullpen is, but anytime a bullpen gets overused, it’s tough. That’s what I pride myself on, and so do all these starters, going deep in the game.”
These type of outings have started to become a normal occurrence for Fiers since May 7, the night of his second career no-hitter. He’s posted a 2.79 ERA over his last six outings with a rather pedestrian 24-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It hasn’t been flashy, but the results speak for themselves.
“Just getting back to the pitcher I am,” said Fiers, whose early struggles led to a 7.03 ERA in the first month of the season. “I just wasn’t all there to start the year. I know the pitcher I am and how I can pitch these teams. I don’t think I was trusting my pitches early on. Now I feel great and with the way we play defense, it’s going to be tough to beat us.”
The only real damage inflicted on Fiers came off the bat of Angels star Mike Trout, who blasted a two-run homer in the fifth. Though he found himself in a couple of jams, Fiers limited the damage with seven hits allowed and five strikeouts.
“I got into some jams but guys made plays behind me to get out of them,” Fiers said. “Just one of those games you grind through and make some pitches when they got guys on. The way our guys are swinging the bat, it was just about trying to limit the big inning.”
Fiers conquered some demons on Thursday night. He entered the night with a 10.72 ERA in five career games at Angel Stadium, the highest ERA at the stadium by a pitcher with at least 20 innings pitched.
Scoring in other ways
“We know we can hit home runs, but when we win games like this where we don’t need one, it’s good,” Melvin said. “Tonight we got good solid pitching and good defense. We have to be able to win games in other ways than just hitting home runs and we’ve scored quite a few runs without the home run the last couple of nights.”
Thursday’s win earned the A’s a series victory and pushed them back to .500, a mark they’d like to start distancing themselves ahead of in the coming months.
“We got our heads above .500 for a little while with the 10 wins in a row and then lost five in a row,” Melvin said. “At this point, every series win puts us one more game over .500. We’d like to climb above that, hopefully comfortably.”