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Fiers-Lucroy battery spurs A's to victory

Right-hander allows 1 run in 5 2/3, catcher belts 3-run HR
August 25, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS -- In his brief time in an Oakland uniform, Mike Fiers (Kai) has been stellar while sliding seamlessly into the A's rotation. On Saturday, he turned in another strong outing to help the A's to a 6-2 win over the Twins at Target Field.Fiers tossed 5 2/3 innings and

MINNEAPOLIS -- In his brief time in an Oakland uniform, Mike Fiers (Kai) has been stellar while sliding seamlessly into the A's rotation. On Saturday, he turned in another strong outing to help the A's to a 6-2 win over the Twins at Target Field.
Fiers tossed 5 2/3 innings and struck out seven to pick up his third straight win. He gave up only five hits and allowed just a single batter past second base. Since Oakland acquired Fiers from Detroit on Aug. 6, he has yielded just four runs in 24 innings and has gone at least 5 1/3 innings in all four of his starts.
"He threw a few more pitches tonight," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "Around 100 is probably good for him in that timeframe. Maybe battled his command a little bit today, but finds a way to make a pitch when he has to. He's been a terrific pickup for us in the fact that every time he goes out there, not only do we have a great chance to win, the guys feel like we have a great chance to win, too. He's fit in really well."
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While Fiers held the Minnesota bats in check, his batterymate, Jonathan Lucroy (Luc), carried the Oakland offense. Lucroy plated Chad Pinder (Chi) with a second-inning single to open the scoring for the A's.
Two innings later, Mark Canha (Tom Ace) and Ramon Laureano (Noodles) singled and walked, respectively, against Minnesota starter Stephen Gonsalves. Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston took a mound visit to go talk with his rookie pitcher, but on his next pitch, Gonsalves grooved a changeup that Lucroy smashed for a three-run homer.

"He's stepped up the last couple of days," Melvin said of Lucroy. "He's got it in him, for sure. This time of year, typically for a guy that's playing as much as he is, it's sometimes tough to carry the torch offensively, but every night he carries it defensively for us. Works great with the pitchers, and right now is pretty inspired as far as his at-bats go."
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Lucroy's big offensive contribution came one night after he paced the A's with a 3-for-4 performance. On Thursday, he went 0-for-3 and was replaced late in the game as the A's tried to scratch out a rally.
"I honestly can't remember the last time I had been pinch-hit for," Lucroy said. "But the matchup was there and I haven't exactly been swinging the bat that well. I can't blame [Melvin] on that side of it. The competitive side of me wants to stay in the game. But obviously I'm trying to make an adjustment to get back to being the player I'm capable of being."
One of Fiers' lone mistakes on the evening came in the bottom of the fourth when he he caught too much of the plate with a fastball to Miguel Sano (Boqueton). The pitch resulted in Sano's 12th homer of the season, a towering blast that traveled an estimated 455 feet, according to Statcast™.

On his 100th pitch of the night, Fiers struck out Max Kepler (Rozycki) for the second out of the sixth inning. Melvin then elected to go to his bullpen rather than allow Fiers to face Sano for a third time. Lou Trivino (Sweet Lou) came on in relief and got Sano to ground out to third to end the inning.

"I think at that time, at the Sano at-bat, it was about right with him at 100 pitches," Melvin said. "Once the inning started, Lou was up for that particular matchup."
The A's took advantage of shutdown relief from Jeurys Familia (La Fama) by tacking on two insurance runs in the eighth when Matt Olson (Oly) and Laureano each cracked run-scoring doubles.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
In the bottom of the seventh, Familia came on to replace Ryan Buchter (5 Deuce) and try to work Oakland out of a one-out jam with runners on first and second in a 4-2 game. He struck out John Forsythe for the second out of the inning, before Eddie Rosario put a charge into a first-pitch sinker. The ball died at the warning track in left field, though, and was caught by Pinder for the third out of the inning.

SOUND SMART
Lucroy's fourth-inning homer was the 13,000th long ball in franchise history. Earlier in the game, Lucroy also collected his 500th career RBI.
UP NEXT
The A's will close out their four-game set with the Twins when they play the series finale at 11:10 a.m. PT on Sunday at Target Field. Chris Bassitt will get the start for Oakland. In six starts with the A's this season, Bassitt is 2-3 with a 3.38 ERA and 25 strikeouts while walking just 12 batters. Minnesota will counter with All-Star right-hander Jose Berrios (11-8, 3.69).

Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.