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Fiers hones curve, consistency in outing

Starter settles down vs. Blue Jays after high pitch count
MLB.com

TORONTO -- Starter Mike Fiers battled through an inconsistent outing in the Astros' 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday, but his in-game adjustments allowed him to push through six innings and prevent Houston's bullpen from another taxing game.

Fiers ran his pitch count up early with walks, sitting at 30 balls and 30 strikes after three, though he actually carried a no-hitter into the fifth. It was broken up by a Russell Martin single and followed shortly by Josh Donaldson's three-run shot. Manager A.J. Hinch rolled Fiers back out for the sixth, even if it took a little campaigning.

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TORONTO -- Starter Mike Fiers battled through an inconsistent outing in the Astros' 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday, but his in-game adjustments allowed him to push through six innings and prevent Houston's bullpen from another taxing game.

Fiers ran his pitch count up early with walks, sitting at 30 balls and 30 strikes after three, though he actually carried a no-hitter into the fifth. It was broken up by a Russell Martin single and followed shortly by Josh Donaldson's three-run shot. Manager A.J. Hinch rolled Fiers back out for the sixth, even if it took a little campaigning.

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"I thought I was coming out," Fiers said. "I had to talk A.J. into letting me stay out there. I just wanted to save the bullpen a little bit more, save it another inning and help out."

Early in the game, Fiers appeared to be having trouble with his curveball. As he worked through the Blue Jays' lineup a second and third time, Fiers adjusted that pitch and felt much more comfortable with it after the second inning.

"If you don't have it, you've got to figure it out pretty quick," Fiers said, "or else these guys will hurt you or you start walking a bunch of guys. Then you're in tough situations, which I was, but I was able to start throwing it better later in the game."

This coincides with many of the larger adjustments that Fiers has tried to make over the course of the season.

Fiers' cutter was hit hard earlier this season. He threw it just 99 times, according to Statcast™, but he allowed four home runs against the pitch and chose to listen to those results.

"Early on in the the season, I was getting hurt with the cutter to righties a lot more than I should have," Fiers said, "so I just ended up not throwing that pitch when I have three other pitches that are better."

Pitch count was more of an issue for Fiers his last time out against the Yankees, which cut short an otherwise strong start. He hit 105 pitches after just four innings due to four walks, but he held the Yankees scoreless and allowed just two hits.

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

Houston Astros, Mike Fiers