Posted on May 8, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The distinction of the first no-hitter of the 2019 MLB season goes to Mike Fiers of the Oakland Athletics. Needing 131 pitches to do it, Fiers threw nine scoreless, hitless innings against the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night. He walked only two and struck out six with Oakland winning the game 2-0. Fiers becomes the 35th pitcher in big league history to pitch multiple no-hitters, doing so previously in 2015 as a member of the Houston Astros.
“It was a great night obviously for him, for our fans, everyone wants to see a no-hitter,” said Oakland manager Bob Melvin after the game. “It was no fun for me once he got past 120 pitches, I promise you that. But he deserved it.”
It was far from the most dominant no-hitter in baseball history. As mentioned, Fiers had just six strikeouts in the game. He also didn’t throw any harder than 90 mph, although he was able to mix and match his pitches to keep Cincinnati hitters off balance all night.
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More importantly, Fiers received two brilliant defensive plays behind him. The first came from second baseman Jurickson Profar, who had to run into shallow right field and make a diving catch in the 6th inning. On the very next at-bat, center fielder Ramon Laureano saved Fiers by reaching over the outfield wall and catching what at the time looked like a game-tying home run by Joey Votto.
“It was amazing. Things like this just happen,” said Fiers. “You go out there wanting to go deep in the game and get the defense off the field as quick as possible. Some great plays by Profar and Laureano, and [catcher Josh] Phegley putting down the right signs.”
His high pitch count was the next obstacle Fiers had to overcome in order to complete the no-hitter. After walking two batters in the 7th inning, Fiers was already at 120 pitches. At that point, the A’s were still nursing a 1-0 lead. That led to Melvin actually mentioning the no-hitter to Fiers to let him know he would get taken out if he allowed another base runner. But a home run from Profar in the bottom of the 7th gave Fiers a little more slack. Either way, he went on to retire the final six batters to complete the no-hitter.
“It’s always tricky late in a game like that when a guy has a bunch of pitches,” said Fiers. “[Melvin] was definitely looking out for my health and the team as well. I’m just thankful for him to leave me in and trusting me. I felt great and everything was working. It wasn’t a matter of being tired. I had adrenaline at that point. It was just being myself and trusting Phegley behind the plate.”
Fiers is now one of five active pitchers with multiple no-hitters, a list that also includes Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. He’s also just one of eight to throw a no-hitter for multiple teams. As a journeyman who’s ERA for the season is at 5.48 despite nine shutout innings, Fiers couldn’t help but reflect on how far he’s come and how he’s managed to put himself in such exclusive company with his second no-hitter.
“It’s pretty cool. I’m just grateful to be here,” said Fiers. “I wasn’t too high on the charts. I was a guy throwing 88-90 mph and down in South Florida, so I was one in a million down there. I want to thank Charlie Sullivan, a Milwaukee Brewers scout, for giving me the opportunity and putting in a good word. My coaches, family, friends, everybody who has stuck with me.