Mike Fiers

Mike Fiers makes case to start AL wild-card game in A's win vs. Rangers

mikefiersathleticsrangersap.jpg
AP

Mike Fiers makes case to start AL wild-card game in A's win vs. Rangers

OAKLAND -- I guess it's safe to say that Mike Fiers' hand feels just fine.

After leaving his last start early with numbness in his pitching hand, the right-hander responded with eight scoreless innings Saturday night, allowing just two hits with five strikeouts, as the A's shut out the Rangers, 8-0.

"I felt fine," Fiers confirmed after the game. "Just a sigh of relief that everything was good, so now (I have) peace of mind that I can go back out there and pitch."

Fiers improved to 15-4 on the season, marking the most wins by an A's pitcher since Scott Kazmir won 15 in 2014. He also looked like the Mike Fiers we've seen for most of the year, following three straight disappointing outings where he allowed 16 earned runs in 7 2/3 innings.

"The last three starts haven't been ideal, so I wanted to show these guys I've still got it," Fiers said. "When you have those starts back-to-back-to-back, only going one inning in two of those games, it just looks bad. It's a bad look. Everyone's throwing well, so if I do that, it might set in their mind that, 'Hey, we need to get this guy some more work.' So coming out today, I needed to make a statement and show them I could still pitch and (I'm) still the guy out there fighting."

Fiers, 34, has been especially effective at the Coliseum this season. In 16 home starts, he has gone 9-1 with a 2.54 ERA.

"(He has) a lot of confidence," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "When he takes the mound here, you know he feels good, and the numbers would suggest that. It's a really good ballpark for him. When he's got all his pitches going like he did tonight -- his slider and changeup with his fastball and curveball -- he's a tough guy to deal with."

"I like pitching here. I feel comfortable," Fiers said. "The weather's great. It's not humid. It just feels like home and I love pitching here. I think the confidence is just a little bit higher. I love it here."

[RELATED: Beane vows to enjoy playoff run]

That certainly makes Fiers an intriguing option to start the AL Wild Card Game, especially if it's in Oakland. While the A's lead the Rays and Indians by just two games in that race, Fiers admits to looking forward to that opportunity.

"Everyone wants to make it tough on Bob (Melvin) to choose who it's going to be or what plan we're going to go with," Fiers said. "But it's all about winning that game today."

A's vs. Rangers lineups: Mike Fiers makes first start since hand issue

A's vs. Rangers lineups: Mike Fiers makes first start since hand issue

OAKLAND -- The A's open their final home series of the regular season Friday night when they welcome the Texas Rangers to the Coliseum.

Oakland swept the Rangers last weekend in Texas to improve to 11-5 in the season series. The A's enter Friday's action with a two-game lead in the AL wild-card race, ahead of both Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

Right-hander Mike Fiers will get the start for Oakland after leaving his last outing in Texas with numbness in his right hand. The 34-year-old had an MRI earlier this week, which came back clean, and he felt fine during Tuesday's bullpen session.

For the season, Fiers is 14-4 with a 4.09 ERA in 31 starts. In 12 career games against Texas, he is 3-3 with a 6.50 ERA.

The Rangers will counter with left-hander Mike Minor. The 31-year-old is 13-9 with a 3.33 ERA this season, but the A's knocked him around for seven earned runs in five innings his last time out. Minor is 2-3 with a 4.83 ERA in eight career appearances against Oakland.

The A's have loaded up their lineup with right-handed bats, as they typically do when facing southpaws. First baseman Matt Olson is the only left-hander in the lineup, batting third.

Here are the full lineups for the A's-Rangers game, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports California and the MyTeams app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. PT, with first pitch at 7:07

Texas Rangers (74-79)
DH Shin-Soo Choo
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Willie Calhoun
RF Nomar Mazara
3B Danny Santana 
2B Rougned Odor
1B Ronald Guzmán
CF Delino DeShields
C Jose Trevino
LHP Mike Minor (13-9, 3.33 ERA)

Oakland A's (92-61)
SS Marcus Semien
3B Matt Chapman
1B Matt Olson
CF Mark Canha 
RF Ramón Laureano 
DH Khris Davis
C Sean Murphy
LF Chad Pinder
2B Sheldon Neuse
RHP Mike Fiers (14-4, 4.09 ERA)

Mike Fiers to undergo MRI on hand, hopes to start for A's on Friday

Mike Fiers to undergo MRI on hand, hopes to start for A's on Friday

OAKLAND -- The A's are optimistic that Mike Fiers avoided serious injury when he had to leave Saturday's game in Texas after just 1 2/3 innings.

Fiers, 34, said he felt a shooting numbness in his hand when he delivered a cutter to Rangers infielder Rougned Odor. The right-hander regained feeling in his hand and stayed in the game for a couple of batters before ultimately being removed as a precaution.

Fiers told NBC Sports California that he saw a doctor on Monday and his hand felt fine. He will undergo an MRI on Tuesday, but still plans to throw a bullpen afterward and hopes to start Friday against the Rangers.

"As of right now, he feels pretty good," A's manager Bob Melvin confirmed. "(He got) checked out today. We're hoping it's more muscular. I think he's still going to get an MRI tomorrow. Hopefully, we caught a break as far as that goes. We have a little room to play around with the off day as far as his start, but we're not altering anything until we get all the information tomorrow."

This is not the first time Fiers has experienced this type of numbness in his hand. It has happened a few times earlier this season and a handful of times last year. While he thinks he'll be fine, he just wants to make sure there is no nerve damage.

If Fiers is forced to miss any time, the A's actually do have enough starting rotation depth to get by. Oakland is currently employing a six-man rotation, with Sean Manaea, Tanner Roark, Homer Bailey, Chris Bassitt, and Brett Anderson all pitching well, in addition to Fiers.

[RELATED: Manaea makes case for starting potential wild-card game]

Still, Fiers has been the A's best starter for most of the season, going 14-4 with a 4.09 ERA in 31 starts. Oakland will hope for good news to come out of Tuesday's MRI.