Cincinnati Reds

How Mike Fiers rewarded Jurickson Profar, Ramon Laureano for no-hitter

How Mike Fiers rewarded Jurickson Profar, Ramon Laureano for no-hitter

It was a unique night. 

Back on May 7, 2019, the lights went out at Oakland Coliseum, causing a delay in play for the A’s as they hosted the Cincinnati Reds. On that same night, A's pitcher Mike Fiers threw the second no-hitter of his career.

He threw 131 pitches in the outing which was the most since, well, his previous no-hitter in 2015 with the Houston Astros.

It was also an entertaining display for those watching.

In the sixth inning, Jurickson Profar made a spectacular catch at second base to help Fiers preserve his no-no. It was immediately followed by a stellar catch from center fielder Ramón Laureano to rob Joey Votto of a home run. The robbery would have made Mike Trout blush. 

They were rewarded for their efforts, as Fiers compensated the two with a gift.

“Yeah, I had to,” Fiers told NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil. “That’s just something that happens in baseball. Someone makes a great play and for the game to turn out the way it did for me, it’s a big accomplishment for me, so for them to help me in that way, to go out of their way to make a crazy play, you got to give them a little something.”

Fiers said they got “nice little watches.”

“It wasn’t anything too crazy,” Fiers said. 

He said he appreciates everyone on the team and would have gifted every guy a watch, but admitted it would have been pricey at that point.

[RELATED: Watch A's defensive gems preserve Fiers' no-hitter]

If A's third baseman Matt Chapman received a watch for every stellar play he made, the watch industry would never suffer again.

It’s nice to see Laureano and Profar were taken care of.

Ranking Buster Posey's best walk-off moments throughout Giants career

Ranking Buster Posey's best walk-off moments throughout Giants career

Programming note: Relive Buster Posey's walk-off single against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, March 28, at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

There haven't been as many big hits in recent years, or even opportunities for them, but for most of his career Buster Posey has been the Giant you want at the plate when you need to get a runner home in the late innings. 

Posey has a .312 career average with runners in scoring position and an OPS of nearly .900. He hits .306 in what Baseball-Reference calls "high leverage" situations, and while the bat has slowed a bit over time, he used to handle elite closers as well as anyone. Posey has five hits in nine career at-bats against Aroldis Chapman and is 8-for-23 against Kenley Jansen. 

Posey has six career walk-off hits and one walk-off walk, and tonight we're showing one of them -- last year's game-winning single against the Los Angeles Dodgers -- at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. To get you ready, we decided to rank Posey's game-winners:

7. Walk against Toronto Blue Jays' Ryan Tepera (May 11, 2016)

The degree of difficulty here is the lowest, because with one out and the bases loaded, Posey didn't need to do much against a pitcher who already had walked one, hit one and thrown a wild pitch. Tepera walked Posey on four pitches. 

It's not a walk-off hit, but we're including it here for one simple reason: 

6. Single off Chicago Cubs' James Norwood (July 11, 2018)

This one had the potential to be much higher. With two outs in the 13th, Posey hit a ball that had a shot to be the rare right-handed homer to the arcade. It officially went down as just a single after banging off the base of the wall and bringing Brandon Belt home from second. 

A big hit, but there's not enough here to rank it ahead of homers or a game-winner against the Dodgers. The video is a fun reminder, though, that Posey hit behind Andrew McCutchen for a few months.

5. Single off Dodgers' Kenley Jansen (June 11, 2016)

You could go either way with this one. Posey gets bonus points for winning a game off Jansen, who had a 1.82 ERA that season and took just one loss other than this one. He also did it in front of Steve Kerr, who sat near the dugout throughout a game that took exactly four hours. 

But we're ranking this here because you can't ignore that the ball -- while hit hard -- was very nearly an inning-ending double play. That bumps it down the list.

4. Single off Dodgers' Pedro Baez (May 1, 2019)

Posey has three career walk-offs against the Dodgers and we're tempted to move this one up the list and into the top three because it was off of Baez, who costs Giants fans at least an hour of their lives every season with his slow pace. This one also clinched a series win against the Dodgers. 

But when you watch it -- and it airs Saturday on NBC Sports Bay Area -- the play is just as much about Steven Duggar as it is about Posey. It's a hell of a swing to be able to yank a 97 mph fastball on the outer edge, but the ball left the bat at just 85 mph. Chris Taylor made a 95 mph throw to the plate that was on line, but Duggar rounded third perfectly and used his speed to slide in just in time. 

3. Home run off Colorado Rockies' Juan Nicasio (August 27, 2014)

Man, it's hard to beat a walk-off homer in a night game at Oracle Park. This one was soaring, too, so the sellout crowd had plenty of time to rise and appreciate it. This was Posey's 18th homer of 2014, the last season in which he reached 20 homers. 

Posey's second career walk-off came a night after Madison Bumgarner lost a perfect game in the eighth inning and a night before Yusmeiro Petit set the MLB record by retiring a 46th straight batter, a stretch that went back over a month. The win gave Bruce Bochy 1,600 in the big leagues, moving him past Tommy Lasorda. The 2014 Giants were starting to roll. 

"A lot of us know what this team is capable of if we do get into the playoffs," Posey said that night. "This is a fun time of the year."

2. Home run off Dodgers' Ronald Belisario (May 3, 2013)

Bochy had Gregor Blanco warming up heading into the bottom of the ninth inning on this night, and he was ready to send the speedy outfielder in for Posey if the reigning MVP led off the ninth by reaching base. All Blanco ultimately had to do was run to join the crowd at the plate.

Posey's first career walk-off was a memorable one, and it came on a Friday night against the Dodgers in front of a raucous crowd. The homer was Posey's fourth of the season and raised his OPS to .900. A night later, backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz hit a solo shot off Brandon League in the 10th to give the Giants back-to-back walk-offs. The Giants completed the sweep that Sunday to improve to 19-12, but it all fell apart in June and July.

[RELATED: How Dubon is staying ready after missing Opening Day]

1. Home run off Cincinnati Reds' Robert Stephenson (May 12, 2019)

The record books say Posey's third career walk-off blast came on May 12, but it was actually May 13 by the time he touched the plate. The solo shot came at 1:43 in the morning after five hours and 28 minutes of baseball, and despite the fact that he caught all 17 innings, Posey managed to smoke it 431 feet. 

"That's dad strength," he said the next morning, smiling. 

Posey's walk-off was the latest by inning in franchise history, and there was more relief the game finally was over than there was excitement about what he had done:

The ultimate celebration -- both hands spread straight out as he looked to the sky -- was a great one, in large part because it was immediately followed by young Christian Arroyo getting clocked by Jeff Samardzija in the scrum at home plate:

Duane Kuiper shares amazing Hunter Pence story from 2014 World Series

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AP

Duane Kuiper shares amazing Hunter Pence story from 2014 World Series

The Giants relied on Hunter Pence's leadership during his first stint with the team. He didn't pick up "The Reverend" moniker for nothing.

Pence earned the nickname after the 2012 NLDS, giving his teammates a fiery, inspirational sermon as San Francisco trailed two-games-to-none in the best-of-five series with the Cinncinati Reds. The Giants overcame that deficit, and a three-games-to-one hole against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, to win their second World Series of the decade following Pence's speech. Though he slashed just .210/.230/.290 in his first postseason in orange and black, the speech cemented Pence's place in Giants lore.

The Giants only faced playoff elimination once after that run -- the 2014 NL Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh-- before Game 7 of the World Series. San Francisco, coming off a 10-0 road loss to the Kansas City Royals in Game 6, had reason to hang its collective head.

That, unsurprisingly, is not what Pence did.

"We got off the bus at the hotel, and it just happened that Hunter Pence and I were the only two in the elevator going up." Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper recalled Tuesday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show." "And really in Hunter Pence's style, he looked me in the eye and with deep sincerity said, 'I'm glad. This is the way it has to be. I can't wait for tomorrow.' "

Pence's confidence was warranted. He entered Game 7 batting .435 with a home run and 5 RBI in the World Series, recording a hit in each game of the Fall Classic. The outfielder kept rolling in Game 7, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.

Had Madison Bumgarner not thrown a historic five-inning save three days after tossing 119 pitches, Pence would've had a strong case for World Series MVP. He tied Pablo Sandoval for the Fall Classic lead with 12 hits and three doubles, leading all hitters with a 1.167 OPS. Pence's calm in the face of adversity went a long way.

"Meanwhile, everybody else is ready to puke (after Game 6), right?" Kuiper continued. "Because of (losing Game 7 in 2002 to the Anaheim Angels) and we got a Game 7 ... but he was ready to roll, man. I don't believe he slept. I think he sat in his chair in his room and waited until the bus left the next day."

[RELATED: Kuiper reveals his most underrated Giant from title teams]

Pence returned to the Giants this offseason after an unlikely All-Star campaign with the Texas Rangers in 2019. The veteran admitted he doubted if he could still play after the Giants didn't re-sign him following the 2018 season, but he revamped his swing and revitalized his career as a 35-year-old.

The Giants likely won't be contenders whenever the MLB season starts after the coronavirus pandemic, but Pence won't be counting San Francisco -- or himself -- out.