Buzz continues to surround reflective Fiers
Day after no-no, Astros righty admits history hasn't sunk in; Hinch expects continued success in playoff chase
HOUSTON -- After 134 pitches and a sleepless night of celebration following his no-hitter in the Astros' 3-0 win over the Dodgers on Friday, Mike Fiers arrived at the clubhouse with players still buzzing over their newest teammate's accomplishment.
Twice Carlos Gomez, who came over from the Brewers to the Astros with Fiers, yelled "Fier, Fier, Fier, that's my boy," as Fiers tried to recount the evening and early-morning hours that still have his phone buzzing with text messages. Locker-mate Dallas Keuchel asked jokingly if Fiers had a late night.
"Went home, Netflix, couldn't really sleep, just watched movies," Fiers replied.
"That's a joke," he said, following up.
Still admittedly unable to grasp the gravity of what he accomplished, Fiers reflected on his winding five-year career during which he's sometimes struggled to stay in the Majors.
"It's just crazy," Fiers said of his journey. "But I've always thought of myself as a big league pitcher, and I thought of myself being at this point. It's a dream to throw a no-hitter, and it happened last night. When these things happen, you're going out and battling and pitching, but you don't think it's going to be a no-hitter. You just go out there and battle and do what you can to win a ballgame."
One of the more notorious disturbances in Fiers' career was last season, when he hit Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton with a pitch in the face on Sept. 11, 2014, which ended Stanton's season and left him with multiple facial fractures and dental work.
Though both men have talked since the incident, and Stanton knows Fiers had no ill intent, Fiers said the memories of the pitch still linger.
"After that moment you have to put it behind you and you have to pitch," Fiers said. "You can't let one moment like that affect your career. It was very tough to get over that, and even now I still think about it all the time."
Fiers, whose 134 pitches are the fourth-most in a no-hitter since 1988, said his arm felt fine Saturday morning, though he admitted to not moving it much. He anticipated a day of relaxation and soaking the feat in with teammates as the Astros continue their Interleague series with the Dodgers.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch said the schedule worked out so that Fiers would have had extra rest anyway, regardless of Friday's workload or outcome. The Astros are off Thursday, and rookie Lance McCullers Jr. will start Sunday, pushing everyone in the rotation back a day. Hinch said Fiers will pitch again on either Saturday or Sunday at Minnesota.
Edwin Jackson's 149-pitch no-hitter on June 25, 2010, for Arizona vs. Tampa Bay, stands as the Major League record since 1988. Hinch also managed that game, a 1-0 victory for Arizona, but said Jackson's eight walks put a bit more stress on him than Fiers' evening.
"I had a reliever up in the second inning," Hinch said of that 2010 game. "And the third, and the fourth and the fifth. So Fiers didn't make me get anybody up until the seventh. ... I've only been a part of two no-hitters in the big leagues, obviously a little bit different, but both fun to see from my chair."
Jackson's struggles after that no-hitter, though, are what Hinch hopes Fiers avoids. Jackson gave up four or more earned runs in each of his next five starts following the no-hitter before he was eventually traded to the White Sox.
Fiers has been stout for the Astros in his first three starts with the club, allowing just one earned run through 21 innings, doing it mostly with the same repertoire he employed Friday night -- a high fastball with an unorthodox delivery that featured an elongated, deliberate throw to the mound.
"It's going to be critical that we continue to pitch well in the rotation," Hinch said of Fiers. "He's a good pitcher. We acquired him with the intent to have him start. We liked his pitches, liked the way they acted against the hitters. We realized his style that he pitches with can be very effective up in the zone. We acquired him with that intent, and he's continued to answer the challenge."
A challenge Fiers said is simple given Houston's surprise playoff circumstances.
"When you're with a team that's fighting for a playoff spot and fighting every day doing everything they can to win, you can feel that, and you see it, and it makes you want to play much more better," Fiers said. "Just give it all you can every day you come out here, do whatever you can for this team."