A light malfunction almost stopped Mike Fiers' night from getting started. A high pitch count nearly prevented him from finishing it.
It's a good thing Fiers was allowed to take the mound and stay there all game, because he made history doing it.
Fiers overcame the early delay and managed the high workload to pitch the second no-hitter of his career, getting help with two spectacular defensive plays from his Oakland Athletics teammates to shut down the Cincinnati Reds 2-0 on Tuesday night.
"Amazing. That's really all I can really say," Fiers said. "Things like this just happen."
This one almost didn't.
A bank of lights in left field was only partially lit before the scheduled start of the game, leading to a delay of more than 90 minutes before the teams and umpires determined there was enough light to play a full game.
Then after getting through seven innings with 109 pitches, Fiers was told by manager Bob Melvin that one more baserunner would end his night even if he still hadn't allowed a hit. He then breezed through the final two innings, following up his 2015 gem for the Houston Astros against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 131-pitch masterpiece to become the 35th pitcher with multiple no-hitters in his career.
"I'm just really thankful for him leaving me in and trusting me," Fiers said. "I told him I felt great. I felt like everything was working. It wasn't a matter of being tired. I had adrenaline at that point."
Fiers walked two, struck out six and ended it by fanning Eugenio Suarez with a big curveball.
After the final out, the A's poured out of the dugout to mob Fiers in celebration in front of a few thousand fans remaining after the lengthy delay. Fiers tipped his hat to the crowd and raised his arms in triumph as he walked off.
"It was a great night obviously for him, for our fans. Everyone wants to see a no-hitter," Melvin said. "It was no fun for me once he got past 120 pitches, I promise you that. But he deserved it."
The 33-year-old Fiers (3-3) raised his career record to 57-58. The right-hander began the night with a 6.81 ERA this season and has been a journeyman for much of his career.
A journeyman with a special place in the record book, that is.
"It's pretty cool," Fiers said. "I saw a little bit of the list. I'm just grateful to be here and get the opportunity to play. I remember when I was getting drafted I wasn't too high on the charts. I was a guy throwing 88 to 90 [mph] down in South Florida. I'm one in a million down there. ... I'm just blessed to be here."
The first no-hitter of the 2019 season didn't come without tense moments, as Fiers was bailed out by back-to-back great defensive plays in the sixth inning. Second baseman Jurickson Profar ran a long way to make a diving catch on Kyle Farmer's popup into short right field for the second out, prompting Fiers to throw up his arms in celebration.
"Ramon's catch, he's done that once or twice. That's a normal play for him," Fiers said. "Profar, another amazing play."
This was the 13th no-hitter in the history of the Athletics franchise, which started in Philadelphia, moved to Kansas City and shifted to Oakland. Sean Manaea pitched the previous no-hitter for the A's on April 21, 2018, at home against the Boston Red Sox.
Manaea, fittingly, gave Fiers an ice bath on the field when this one ended.
"It was way more nerve-wracking than [when] I was doing it," Manaea said. "I was shaking on the bench. I don't know. It was crazy seeing him do it. It was awesome."
Fiers is the eighth pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter with multiple teams, joining Nolan Ryan (3 teams), Cy Young (2), Randy Johnson (2), Adonis Terry (2), Jim Bunning (2), Ted Breitenstein (2) and Hideo Nomo (2).
"I knew," Fiers said of having a no-hitter during the game. "I don't like when guys are, like, they don't know."
Fiers issued his only two walks in the seventh but also got Jesse Winker to hit into a double play. Fiers needed only nine pitches to get through the eighth and zipped through the ninth, retiring rookie Josh VanMeter on a popup, getting Votto on a routine grounder and striking out Suarez.
A's catcher Josh Phegley neatly blocked the last pitch and tagged Suarez to make it official.
"I felt like he was hitting with all his pitches where he wanted it and when he wanted it," Phegley said.
Fiers' other no-hitter came on Aug. 21, 2015, in Houston, three weeks after being traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Astros. He threw a career-high 134 pitches in that game.
The only other Reds batter to reach was Winker, who got aboard on an error by Gold Glove third baseman Matt Chapman in the fourth. Chapman was near second base on a defensive shift, and the grounder hit off his glove and landed in the outfield.
The game started after a 98-minute delay because of a lighting problem at the Coliseum. A bank of lights above the upper deck in left field had been only partially lit, causing the delay. Those lights began to flicker on as the game started.
Fiers, however, turned them out on the Reds.
"It was impressive to watch but tough to watch for us," Reds manager David Bell said. "It's one game, but you have to give him a lot of credit. You don't see this very often, especially anymore. To do it against our lineup is very impressive."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.