Athletics

Mike Fiers told J.D. Martinez about Astros cheating before 2018 ALCS

Mike Fiers told J.D. Martinez about Astros cheating before 2018 ALCS

November wasn't the first time A's pitcher Mike Fiers blew the whistle about the Houston Astros' sign-stealing nature.

After the Astros won the 2017 World Series thanks to a lot of help from trash cans, they returned to the American League Championship Series to face the Boston Red Sox. But if the Astros still were cheating, it didn't matter because the Red Sox knew it was coming. And not just because then-manager Alex Cora was part of the Astros' scheme the year prior.

"Alex Cora never influenced us and never told us about that thing," Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez told WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni and Fauria." "The only way I ever found out was in the playoffs was when Fiers, who is a really good friend of mine, reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, make sure you’re doing this because this, because this is what these guys are doing in the playoffs.' I was like, 'What? How is this a thing?' And then I mentioned it to (Cora) and he told kind of me about the whole system and everything like that. That was kind of why it was so crazy. (Cora) was so relaxed going into those playoff games because he knew and we were ready for it."

Fiers also alerted the A's to the scheme in 2018 and they brought it to the league. It was only when nothing was done that Fiers went public to make sure the playing field was leveled.

That's why David Ortiz's comments Thursday in which he said he disagreed with Fiers outing Houston two years after he won the World Series with them were so misguided.

Fiers tried to go about the matter quietly and even helped make sure Ortiz's old team was prepared for what awaited them in the ALCS. He could have spoken up in 2017, but he tried to right those wrongs in 2018 before making sure the Astros had their trash cans confiscated.

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The Astros were able to bang their trash cans to one title, but Fiers made sure they wouldn't be able to repeat using the same old tricks.

Former Astro Evan Gattis takes shot at Mike Fiers, lazily backtracks

Former Astro Evan Gattis takes shot at Mike Fiers, lazily backtracks

A's starter Mike Fiers caused a storm this offseason when he blew the whistle on the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal.

Fiers, who played for the Astros during their 2017 World Series-winning season in which they used technology to steal signs, has been almost universally praised as a hero for bringing the scandal to light.

But one of his former teammates apparently isn't happy Fiers pulled back the curtain on the Astros' trash-can banging ways.

After Gattis' posting caused a stir, the former Astro backtracked, claiming he has no ill-will toward Fiers.

It was a weird attempt at a flex from Gattis, who, even with the help of trash cans and technology, hit just .097 with a .129 slugging percentage on offspeed pitches in 2017.

Oof.

[RELATED: Fiers details mentality behind two career no-hitters]

Gattis isn't the only former player to call out Fiers for his whistleblowing, as both Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz criticized the A's right-hander for the way in which he went about it.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow both were fired after MLB suspended for a season for their role in the rampant cheating.

The season currently is delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. But when the season does begin, the first meeting between Fiers and his old mates will be one for the books.

A's Mike Fiers details mentality behind throwing two no-hitters in career

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USATSI

A's Mike Fiers details mentality behind throwing two no-hitters in career

Programming note: Relive Mike Fiers' 2019 no-hitter on Saturday, March 28 at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Sports California

The first time it happens, it's impressive. The second? There's something extra there.

A's pitcher Mike Fiers threw the second no-hitter of his career on a chilly May night in Oakland last season against the Reds.

He threw his previous one back when he was with the Astros, against the Dodgers on Aug. 21, 2015.

Two across a career -- he must have been on to something. Sure, it's not the rarest thing to happen in baseball, but when's the last time you threw a no-hitter?

"I just think going in, I'm just trying to limit any damage," Fiers told NBC Sports California at the end of January. "Every inning, just trying to get on and off the field, just make it as easy for the defense as I can and get off the field as quick as possible so those guys can get up there and hit."

Fiers said going into the game, he doesn't anticipate anything that special. He sticks to the same routine every time. He doesn't think about whether the game will end with a zero under the hit section or not. 

"Once the game starts -- and you feel like you've been out there all the time, and you know -- you get the butterflies going and start pitching and it gets late in the game and there's still no hits ... not that you change anything, there's so many factors that got into it," he laughed. "You're just literally trying to put up a zero, for me, I'm not trying to do anything that I can't do."

"And so, when it gets late in the game, some guys get amped up a little bit more, try to throw harder, and you just got to tell yourself, 'Stay within yourself.'"

Fiers credits the attempt to have as much composure as possible in order to maintain some sort of normalcy while everyone on social media is, or isn't, trying to jinx it. 

Is he allowed to get excited? Sure. But there's a certain spot in the game where he thinks it could happen, no matter what other pitchers who have accomplished the feat have said.

"There's always a point," he said. "Some guys say that they don't really know what's going, on or they didn't realize there was a no-hitter until the eighth. It's kind of hard for me to believe because you're out there and you know what's going on -- you should know, it's kind of tough for me to believe that, but for me, you know what's going on, but you don't think 'no-hitter,' and it's the second inning."

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"You get through two innings and you're not like 'Oh man I got a no-hitter going,' but I think my judgment is around sixth or seventh inning where you're like, 'We're pretty close now,' you know, six outs, maybe nine outs away -- or one more time through the order."

"Just keep pitching," he said. "Sometimes, it just ends up with no hits."