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Reds no-hit by Fiers with assist from A's defense

@goodforball
May 8, 2019

OAKLAND -- Consider the following statements: If any team appeared unlikely to absorb a no-hit defeat, it was the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. But the Reds fit the profile of a team that seemed particularly susceptible to dominant pitching, such as the 131-pitch masterpiece Mike Fiers created in Oakland’s 2-0

OAKLAND -- Consider the following statements:

If any team appeared unlikely to absorb a no-hit defeat, it was the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday.

But the Reds fit the profile of a team that seemed particularly susceptible to dominant pitching, such as the 131-pitch masterpiece Mike Fiers created in Oakland’s 2-0 victory.

Box score

You decide which serving of reality tastes more palatable.

The Reds were propelled by their offense as much as their chartered plane’s jet engines as they flew to the West Coast. In the preceding four days against San Francisco, they amassed 37 runs, their highest total in any series since they accumulated 43 in four games against the Marlins in August 1998. Cincinnati also belted 15 homers, matching the franchise record for a single series.

Thus, the Reds’ first no-hit defeat since Jake Arrieta of the Cubs subdued them in a 16-0 decision on April 21, 2016, at Great American Ball Park could be interpreted as a stunning aberration.

“That’s just baseball,” said Cincinnati’s Kyle Farmer, who played second base and went 0-for-2 against Fiers. “It’s amazing, the game we play. Some days you can go 4-for-4 and the next day you can go 0-for-4 and it’s like you never hit before. Today was just not our night.”

However, a different set of facts could not be ignored. The Reds entered the game ranked 11th among National League teams in scoring, 11th in batting average and 12th in OPS.

So perhaps the combination of Fiers firing a variety of effective pitches and receiving outstanding defense doomed the Reds to the 12th no-hit loss in their rich 150-year history.

Reds manager David Bell refused to believe that this setback reflected the ballclub’s overall offensive woes.

“What I’ve seen in spurts, what I’ve seen in the last several years from a lot of these guys, that’s what gives me the confidence [that the Reds can hit proficiently],” Bell said. “And the fact that they continue to believe it and work at it.”

Indeed, the Reds threatened Fiers on multiple occasions by making contact that appeared long on promise but short on luck.

The prime example occurred on back-to-back plays during the sixth inning.

With one out, A’s second baseman Jurickson Profar ranged into short right field and fully extended himself as he dove to snare Farmer’s pop fly. Right fielder Stephen Piscotty and first baseman Matt Olson also pursued the ball, but Profar had the best shot at making the play and did so as he slid on his chest.

Said Farmer, “I wouldn’t say I got robbed. I just think he made a great play.”

Joey Votto then drove Fiers’ first-pitch curveball to center field. That’s where Oakland’s talented Ramon Laureano dashed to the wall and jumped as he reached toward the top of the barrier to deny Votto an extra-base hit or possibly a home run.

“It was a hell of a play,” Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “It was one of those plays [when] you see all the highlights of guys who throw no-hitters, the kind of play that maybe defines a game. It seemed like that was that play.”

Additionally, Yasiel Puig backed Laureano to the wall with a second-inning drive.

Outfielder Derek Dietrich suggested that the problems with the Oakland Coliseum’s left-field lighting that delayed the game’s start for one hour and 38 minutes didn’t help the Reds.

Asked whether the illumination issue was a factor, Dietrich said, “I’m not going to lie. Probably a little bit. We’re traveling to the West Coast; it’s later for us. We don’t make excuses, but let’s be real -- it’s a little bit later game for us. The guy threw a great game. I’m not taking anything away from him. But, also, let’s look at all the factors.”

Mostly, though, the Reds heaped sincere praise upon Fiers.

Bell: “Fiers was the story tonight. You just have to congratulate him on an impressive outing.”

Farmer: “He was throwing his fastball down-and-away, hitting that spot consistently. And his slider was on. Later in the game I think he started throwing more sliders and less curveballs.”

Barnhart: “He moved his fastball around. He was able to keep us off-balance. … It was his night for sure.”

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