Fiers tosses immaculate inning, but loss stings
Righty strikes out three on nine pitches as Crew routed by Dodgers
MILWAUKEE -- For Brewers right-hander Mike Fiers, making baseball history with a so-called "immaculate inning" did not ease the pain of a blowout loss to the Dodgers.
Fiers had little to say about striking out the side in the top of the fourth inning on the minimum nine pitches, a feat which had not been accomplished in Major League Baseball this season, and had been done only three times in the Brewers' first 46 seasons as a franchise.
"It doesn't matter how many strikeouts I had," Fiers said after a 14-4 loss Thursday at Miller Park. "It's putting our team in a good chance to succeed, and I didn't do that. Giving up five runs in five innings ain't going to cut it, and it shouldn't."
Fiers was charged with five earned runs on five hits and five walks in five innings. But he struck out eight, including all three batters he faced in the history-making fourth. Fiers' victims were Dodgers shortstop Enrique Hernandez, pitcher Carlos Frias and dangerous center fielder Joc Pederson, each of whom went down swinging.
Hernandez struck out on an 89 mph fastball, while Frias and Pederson swung over curveballs. Fiers threw three fastballs (all at 89), three curveballs, two changeups and a cutter in the inning.
"Mike's stuff is good. The strikeout totals tell you his stuff is good," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, a nod to Fiers' 12-strikeout performance against the Cubs five days earlier. "Five walks -- that [Dodgers] lineup puts a lot of pressure on you. They are patient. Very few of them will chase out of the zone. I think Mike understands that he can attack in the zone. His strikeout totals tell you he can attack in the zone."
The Brewers responded to Fiers' quick inning by scoring twice in the bottom of the fourth for a 3-3 tie. But Fiers found trouble in the sixth, when he walked Alex Guerrero and surrendered a go-ahead triple to Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier, sparking a four-run L.A. rally. Fiers fell to 1-4 with the loss.
Just how often the three-strikeout, nine-pitch feat has been pulled in baseball history is a matter for some debate. Baseball Almanac puts it at 79 times, by 75 different pitchers including Fiers.
The only other Brewers on the list are former closer Doug Jones (on Sept. 23, 1997 against the Royals), Rick Helling (on June 20, 2006 against the Tigers) and Ben Sheets (on June 13, 2004 against the Astros).
Counsell was part of one such inning. While playing for the Brewers, he was one of Astros right-hander Brandon Backe's three strikeouts on nine pitches on April 15, 2004.
When the frustration from Thursday's loss subsided, did Fiers think he would be able to appreciate his place in baseball history?
"It's not about me, man," he said. "It's about this team. The time I needed to come through was that [sixth] inning, and I didn't."