BALTIMORE -- The A's just keep chugging along, outside noise be damned.There's been a lot of it of late, mostly pertaining to their ransacked rotation, which is prepared to be without Sean Manaea through 2019 following news of his impending shoulder surgery. But the leftover parts are, well, doing their
BALTIMORE -- The A's just keep chugging along, outside noise be damned.
There's been a lot of it of late, mostly pertaining to their ransacked rotation, which is prepared to be without Sean Manaea through 2019 following news of his impending shoulder surgery. But the leftover parts are, well, doing their part.
On Tuesday, it was Mike Fiers' turn, and the right-hander delivered six solid innings for a 3-2 win in the series opener over a 103-loss Orioles team at Camden Yards.
Beating last-place clubs should theoretically be easy work for these A's, who have won five in a row and seven of their last eight to improve to an MLB-best 54-21 since June 16. But actually doing so is another thing, and the A's, to this point relentless in their pursuit of a playoff berth, have been able to hold ground in the race by accomplishing just that.
Oakland remained three games behind the first-place Astros, but now sit only two games behind the American League Wild Card-leading Yankees, after New York fell to Minnesota, with 17 to play.
The A's pounced on Orioles reliever Mike Wright Jr. after starter Alex Cobb departed due to a blister on his pitching hand. They opened the third with a four-pitch walk drawn by Jonathan Lucroy. Matt Chapman's RBI double put the A's on the board, and Khris Davis and Stephen Piscotty chimed in with run-scoring singles in the defining frame.
Piscotty finished 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to a career-high-tying 12 games. He's batting .395 during the torrid stretch.
"Player of the Month type of numbers, and you dig even deeper and you see the clutchness of the hits," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I mean, for a few months now, it seems like every time we need someone up in a big situation, he comes up and he either hits a home run or gets a big hit to extend the lead. His best at-bats usually come in big situations."
Fiers, meanwhile, held the Orioles scoreless through the first five innings before surrendering a one-out solo homer to Jonathan Villar in the sixth. The A's have won each of Fiers' seven starts since acquiring him in August, and the right-hander has compiled a 2.72 ERA in that span.
"That's pretty much what he's been giving us -- six innings and a lead when he leaves," Melvin said. "Seems to get a little stronger at times as the game goes along. Pretty economical in his pitches, had it under control, mixed it really well and next thing you know, he's got another win."
The Orioles snagged a run against flamethrower Lou Trivino in the eighth, but were quieted in the ninth by Jeurys Familia, who earned his first save as an Athletic on a night when closer Blake Treinen was afforded rest.
"I want to stay in as long as I can," said Fiers, who totaled just 84 pitches. "Kept my pitch count down, but our bullpen is our backbone, really. Usually, when you come out of the game, you're feeling pretty good, so I just let them take over and we end up winning games."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Villar struck again in the eighth, this time against Trivino with a two-out RBI single to make it a one-run game. Then, Trey Mancini jumped on the first pitch he saw from Trivino for a sinking liner to center field that Ramon Laureano snatched for his nightly highlight-reel play.
"That's the difference between a tie game or not, potentially," Melvin said. "With the runner going, he broke in. It gave him an extra step in, but we've seen him make so many plays like that you almost expect it at this point. He tends to make them in big situations, so that was probably the play of the game as far as defense goes."
Chapman leads the Majors with 21 doubles and 36 extra-base hits since the All-Star break. He's batting .325 over 48 games in that span.
HE SAID IT
"It's not always 100 percent you come up with the ball, but with him, it seems to be that way." -- Piscotty, on Laureano
The A's will use right-hander Liam Hendriks as an "opener" for Wednesday's 4:05 p.m. PT tilt at Camden Yards with the Orioles, who will counter with right-hander Andrew Cashner. Hendriks, who will likely be limited to one inning, has allowed two runs in his 3 2/3 combined innings as "opener."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.