KANSAS CITY — Andrew Triggs talks matter-of-factly about his start to the season, spinning off team-first quotes and not making too much of his own exploits.
Through two starts, however, it can’t be downplayed what the right-hander has given the A’s. Triggs has won his first two starts in his first regular crack in a major league rotation, and he has yet to allow a single earned run.
The offense stole the show in Wednesday’s 8-3 victory over the Royals, but Triggs’ performance out of the gate has been one of the A’s under-the-radar success stories.
“There’s some pretty good left-handed hitters in the (Royals’) lineup,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “You expect him to maybe make some of the righties take some bad swings, but he had some of the lefties taking some bad swings. So he’s off to a great start.”
It means all the more considering Triggs didn’t exactly mow through hitters in the latter half of spring training. He surrendered 20 runs over his last four Cactus League starts. And although the A’s essentially had him written into the rotation by the time they reported to camp — meaning his exhibition results didn’t carry significant weight — surely team officials would have breathed a little easier had he taken some momentum into the regular season.
But Triggs has responded since the games started counting, firing 11 2/3 scoreless innings and giving up just eight hits. More so than in his first start against the Angels, Triggs’ fastball command was more dialed in and he was spotting to both sides of the plate with his cutter.
“Once the lights turn on and the real games begin is when you wanna perform,” Triggs said. “So I’m pretty pleased with the way things have gone. The biggest thing is to nail down a series win the second game in, so it’s exciting.”
Indeed, the A’s have taken two of the first three against the Royals, whom they’ve now beaten eight times in a row dating back to last season. That’s the second-longest winning streak against Kansas City in franchise history, trailing only a 10-gamer that bridged the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Don’t underestimate what it means to Melvin. The 2014 Wild Card loss at Kauffman Stadium, when the A’s coughed up two different leads, still packs some sting. That was apparent when leading into the series, Melvin referred to the Royals as a team that always gives the A’s fits. Never mind that Oakland went 6-1 against Kansas City last season.
“I mean, there’s one game I remember, and a lot that I don’t,” Melvin admitted after Wednesday’s game. “It’s a tough team and it’s been a tough team for us.”
The Royals happen to be the team that drafted Triggs in the 19th round in 2012 after his senior season at USC (the Indians and Giants both drafted him in the previous two years but he didn’t sign). He made it as high as Triple-A with the Royals before being traded to Baltimore for cash in April 2015.
Triggs knows some of the current Royals. He played in the minors with Cheslor Cuthbert, who went 0-for-2 against him as the Royals’ DH. Reliever Scott Alexander, who threw 2 1/3 innings Wednesday, was his roommate.
“I still have some friends over there,” Triggs said. “… It’s fun to pitch against guys you know. But at the end of the day, you’re just trying to make pitches and give your team a chance to win.”
To this point, he’s doing that and more.