Mon, 17 Jun 2019

Fiers, As ready to take huge step toward postseason

Sports Xchange
22 Sep 2018, 17:03 GMT+10

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Right-hander Mike Fiers will look to continue his strong pitching at home while attempting to extend his dominance of the Minnesota Twins when he takes the mound for the Oakland Athletics on the middle day of a three-game series Saturday night.

Seeking their 15th consecutive nonlosing series at home, the A's got halfway there Friday night when Khris Davis smacked a walk-off home run to lead off the 10th inning and produce a 7-6 victory in the series opener.

The Twins have not won a series at Oakland since 2011, and have gone just 4-17 at the Northern California site since the start of the 2012 season.

The win in the series opener shrunk the A's magic number for clinching a playoff berth to four over the Tampa Bay Rays (86-67). With just two home games remaining in the regular season, Oakland (93-61) would have to sweep the Twins this weekend while the Rays are swept at Toronto in order to clinch at home.

The A's lead the Rays by 6 1/2 games in their battle for the second American League wild-card spot.

The game-ender was Davis' second homer of the night and 45th of the season, putting him four ahead of Boston's J.D. Martinez for the major-league lead.

The last time the A's had the major-league leader in home runs at season's end was when Jose Canseco tied Detroit's Cecil Fielder with 44 in 1991.

Davis is 0-for-2 with two walks against right-hander Chase De Jong (0-1, 3.68), who is scheduled to get the ball for the Twins on Saturday.

The 24-year-old has faced the A's twice in his career, both times last season while a member of the Seattle Mariners. One of those games was a start on May 16 in which De Jong gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings of a 9-6 loss.

He's 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA against the A's in his two-year career.

While De Jong searches for his first major-league win, Fiers hopes to demonstrate to A's management that he can be trusted as the starting pitcher should Oakland make the single-elimination wild-card game.

The A's begin the weekend 1 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees (94-59) in the race for the AL's first wild-card spot, which carries with it the home-field advantage in the win-and-advance game.

The Yankees have the tie-breaker advantage should it come to that.

Fiers (12-7, 3.38) has done most of his best pitching at home for the A's. He's gone 3-0 with a 3.21 ERA in five home starts since being acquired last month from Detroit.

The 33-year-old is coming off a road loss at Tampa Bay, but pitched well at Minnesota on Aug. 25, limiting the Twins to one run in 5 2/3 innings in a 6-2 win.

Miguel Sano, who homered against Fiers in that game, has since hurt his knee and isn't expected to play in this series.

Fiers is 6-1 with a 2.91 ERA in 10 career head-to-heads, including nine starts, against the Twins.

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