OAKLAND — In the hours leading up to first pitch Tuesday night, Bob Melvin wasn't even sure Mike Fiers would be his starting pitcher.
“He almost didn't make the start,” Melvin said after the game. “He had a lower back/upper glute issue. I had two (lineup) cards made out. I had potentially (Yusmeiro) Petit starting that game.”
Fortunately Fiers was able to battle through the injury and pitch six strong innings, earning his first win as a member of the Athletics.
“I was fine,” Fiers said. “Everyone's not 100 percent this part of the season, but I was fine. I just had a little something going on, but nothing serious at all.”
After allowing a run in the first inning, Fiers settled in and allowed just one more run in the next five innings. He struck out five batters, without issuing a walk.
“The first couple of innings, I was a little worried about him,” Melvin admitted. “He seemed to loosen up and get better as the game went along. But to think that he was going to give us six innings -- he was pitching on adrenaline.”
“I didn't feel anything,” Fiers said. “I just had a little muscle cramp. It was nothing. I just had to stretch and get a little active warmup in, and it went away.”
Fiers has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last nine starts, lowering his ERA from 4.29 to 3.38. In two starts with the A's, he has given up just three runs in 11 1/3 innings, for an ERA of 2.38, with 13 strikeouts and no walks.
“They all feel like playoff games,” Fiers said. “This is the spot I wanted to be in. I wanted to be on a team that's winning and heading for the playoffs.”
Fiers has already helped the A's in their playoff push, and he figures to be a vital piece the rest of the season.
“To have a guy go out there and give us a quality start, we're going to need that down the stretch,” said second baseman Jed Lowrie.
“He just goes out there and competes, throws strikes, and goes after guys,” added third baseman Matt Chapman. “It's fun to play defense behind a guy like that.”
“I feel like this team has a lot of trust in me,” Fiers said. “I don't want to let them down. I want to pitch well and give them everything I've got.”