Hinch said, much like in McHugh's shaky start vs. the Yankees, Fiers was trying to dance around the zone too much in the first inning. And just like McHugh did against the Royals on Monday, Fiers figured out how to counter the Royals' assertive approach.
"Both pitchers came out and got ambushed," Hinch said. "We looked up and three hitters in, it's 3-0. Cain's homer was on a pitch that was on the inside part of the plate to the smallest part of the ballpark.
"Fiers settled in and started using his pitches more effectively. Those guys are really aggressive in the zone, and you have to be just around the zone enough to make them want to swing. He mixed his pitches better as the outing went along."
Fiers said the bounce-back grit wasn't inspired by the bullpen exhaustion, as he prefers to avoid the big picture in the moment and on the mound. Instead, he lamented on not lasting beyond the 101 pitches and six frames he worked for a still-weary bullpen.
"I have to do my job no matter what, going deep in the game," Fiers said. "I can't think about what's going on in the bullpen. I was able to go six, but other than that first inning when my pitch count was almost 30 pitches, I could've gone deeper."
Fiers' ability to hand the ball to the 'pen for only the game's final third allowed Houston to use just two relievers, Will Harris and Luke Gregerson.
And Fiers' ability -- even in a losing effort -- to stretch his outing out doesn't go unnoticed beyond the outfield fence.
"We in the bullpen pay attention to that, and we appreciate it," said Harris, who tossed two scoreless innings. "Those guys are trying to eat up outs just like everybody else."