OAKLAND, California (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Mike Fiers wants to show he can confidently take the ball in a wild-card game and pitch the Oakland Athletics into the AL Division Series.
Fiers struck out five and didn’t walk a batter over eight dominant innings to win for the first time in four starts. The Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers 8-0 on Friday night to maintain a two-game lead for the top AL wild card.
“I guess his elbow’s OK,” manager Bob Melvin said.
Chad Pinder hit a three-run homer in the second inning and Mark Canha also connected as the A’s (93-61) kept their margin over Cleveland and Tampa Bay (91-63). Oakland is a season-best 32 games over .500.
Fiers (15-4) allowed two hits and faced the minimum, helped by a double play and a pickoff. The right-hander had gone 0-1 over his prior three outings following a 12-0 stretch over 20 starts that began with a no-hitter against the Reds on May 7. He exited his start last Saturday at Texas with nerve irritation in his arm and underwent an MRI on Tuesday. Fiers said his latest effort provided “peace of mind that I can go back out there and pitch.”
“The last three starts haven’t been ideal, so I want to show these guys I’ve still got it,” Fiers said. “Coming out today, I needed to make a statement and show them that I can still pitch.”
Chris Bassitt struck out two in a perfect ninth to finish Oakland’s 11th shutout in 2 hours, 38 minutes.
Canha, a versatile outfielder team executive Billy Beane considers one of the season’s biggest surprises, hit his 25th homer leading off the fifth. Canha and Marcus Semien had RBI doubles as Oakland won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Mike Minor (13-10) allowed six runs, six hits and four walks in five innings as Texas lost its sixth straight game. Minor also lost to the A’s in Texas last weekend.
“I don’t know what the stats are but when you don’t throw the ball where you want to and you can’t throw an off-speed pitch for a strike, it’s pretty tough,” Minor said.
The Rangers are now 74-80 and will take on the A’s again tonight at 8:07 p.m.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)