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Fiers quiets Halos as A's open strong at home

Semien, Davis hit HRs; Grossman, Chapman deliver on defense
@goodforball
March 28, 2019

OAKLAND -- The A's proved that the best way to shorten the length of ballgames is to perform as they did in Thursday's 4-0 victory over the Angels. Embracing efficiency tends to speed up baseball's clock, as the A's reaffirmed during a crisp 2-hour, 18-minute effort. A's starter Mike Fiers

OAKLAND -- The A's proved that the best way to shorten the length of ballgames is to perform as they did in Thursday's 4-0 victory over the Angels.

Embracing efficiency tends to speed up baseball's clock, as the A's reaffirmed during a crisp 2-hour, 18-minute effort.

A's starter Mike Fiers pitched economically, no-hitting the Angels for 4 1/3 of his six innings. Oakland streamlined its scoring, which was accented by home runs from Marcus Semien and Khris Davis. The A's also played airtight defense, as third baseman Matt Chapman and left fielder Robbie Grossman each made a pair of adroit plays.

"Oh, man, that was fun," Grossman said. "Even better, we get to show up and do it again tomorrow."

Matching the well-rounded performance that the A's delivered before their Coliseum-opening crowd of 22,691 would challenge any ballclub. But the A's believe that they can summon enough balance to sustain themselves in any game.

"We're not just a good hitting team," Fiers said. "We're just a good defensive team. We're everything. Pitching, defense -- that's how you win games in this league. There's not any aspect of the game where we lack."

Oakland began proving that by manufacturing its first two runs off Angels starter Trevor Cahill. Jurickson Profar tripled high off the right-field scoreboard leading off the second inning and came home on Chad Pinder's sacrifice fly.

One inning later, Grossman's stolen base -- his first since Sept. 21, 2017, as a member of the Twins -- set up Stephen Piscotty's RBI double. The A's then reverted to power, as Semien and Davis homered in the fourth and sixth innings, respectively.

Forced to stew for a week over their pair of regular-season losses to the Mariners in Tokyo, the A's received an effective antidote for those setbacks: A trouble-free outing by Fiers, who dominated the Angels until Tommy La Stella doubled with one out in the fifth.

A's manager Bob Melvin admitted that he wasn't sure how durable Fiers might be after Seattle amassed five runs and four hits off him on March 20. But Fiers lasted six innings against the Angels, doubling the length of his stint against the Mariners.

"It definitely felt better to be home," Fiers said. "No excuses; we got beat in Japan. But we came back and gave these fans a show."

Defense emerged as an essential part of the act. After La Stella's hit, Fiers walked the next batter, Jonathan Lucroy, on four pitches. But the A's spared Fiers from any further duress as Chapman engineered a slick double play by neatly backhanding Peter Bourjos' tricky grounder.

"We get a little spoiled by it," Melvin said of Chapman's Platinum Glove Award-winning body of work. "As soon as it's hit to him, you know it's going to be a double play. We try not to take it for granted."

Said Chapman, "That definitely was a tough play, but it's a play that I practice, so I expect to make it."

Chapman also contributed an adroit grab of Lucroy's third-inning liner. Grossman added a pair of impressive running catches on La Stella's foul line drive in the second inning and Andrelton Simmons' deep fly in the fourth.

"You don't play two hours and 10 minutes, whatever it was, without making good defensive plays," Melvin summarized.

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @goodforball.