Mike Fiers delivers a pitch for the Oakland Athletics during the 2018 season. (Courtesy / Oakland Athletics)

Fiers groove continues in weird A’s win over O’s

Mike Fiers has been as automatic as possible for the Oakland Athletics in his last four starts prior to Monday night’s series opener against the Baltimore Orioles.

Mike Fiers has been as automatic as possible for the Oakland Athletics in his last four starts prior to Monday night’s series opener against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing three or less runs per outing.

He was no different Monday night, notching his third straight win as the A’s got back into the winning groove, and back above the .500 mark in a 3-2 win over Baltimore.

“Hard and tough to take Fiers out of that game,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of his decision to pull his starter Fiers with two out and runners on in the seventh inning. “A couple of scratch hits and (two) walks and he has to come out of that game, but he pitched great again.”

Fiers went 6 ⅔ innings on the mound, allowing just two runs (both unearned) on three hits with four strikeouts and a pair of walks. Fiers got into a bit of trouble in the second inning, but after managing his way out, he retired 17 Orioles in a row before walking Rio Ruiz and allowing a single to Hanser Alberto with two out in the seventh inning.

“(Tonight) was great,” Fiers said of his seventh win of the season. “I got command of everything again and just really being aggressive and going after them. I feel like I had a lot of life on my fastball. I don’t know if they can see it well, I was hiding it well or whatever, but it felt like I was getting it on them, keeping them off balance.”

Liam Hendricks relieved Fiers in the seventh and struck out Chris Davis looking. He extended his hot stretch out of the pen to not allowing a run in 19 of his last 21 games, holding onto a 1.09 ERA. He’s allowed just three earned runs in the last 24.2 innings pitched.

“He’s terrific, and he’s come in throwing bullets,” Melvin said. “He’s throwing 97 miles an hour, so it’s a good bit of a contrast after Mike (Fiers), coming in, throwing that hard.”

It was the second inning that made Fiers’, and the A’s night weird. With the A’s up 1-0 on an RBI double by Matt Olsen, Pedro Severino led off with a single to left. Ruiz then tried to bunt Severino to second, which initially would’ve worked anyway. However, A’s third baseman Matt Chapman rushed the throw and threw low to Olsen at first, one-hopping the ball past him into foul territory in right, scoring Severino and propelling Ruiz to third. Alberto then bunted Ruiz home from third to put Baltimore up 2-1.

If Baltimore had a weird rally down a run, then the A’s stole their thunder.

With nobody out in the bottom of the third and the bases loaded, Olsen grounded out to Ruiz at third and Ruiz threw home to get Josh Phegley out at home with the force. However, O’s catcher Chance Sisco then one-hopped a throw to first, aiming for the double play, scoring Marcus Semien from second to tie the game at two and Matt Chapman from first. Chapman was initially called out on the play, but video review showed that he got just under Sisco’s tag at the plate, putting the A’s up 3-2.

“(Chapman) thought he was safe too,” Melvin explained about the weird, go-ahead play. “I was surprised how long (the review) took because it looked like it was pretty clear on the scoreboard that he never got the tag on him.”

Blake Treinen earned his 16th save on the season in a routine 1-2-3 ninth inning to preserve the A’s win.

The A’s return on Tuesday for the second game of this three-game series against the Orioles as Brett Anderson (6-4, 3.89 ERA) takes the mound for the A’s while Baltimore sends right-hander Gabriel Ynoa (0-3, 5.02 ERA).

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