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Game #9: Andrew Triggs flushes Royals, A’s win 8-3

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

One of the Oakland A’s biggest questions entering the 2017 season was whether Andrew Triggs would make it as a starting pitcher. He’d looked good in a brief audition last summer after converting from the bullpen, but was that a sign of things to come or simply a mirage?

We won’t know the full answer until later in the year, but the early returns are good. Triggs has made two starts and he’s yet to allow an earned run, including Wednesday as he shut down the Royals for six scoreless frames en route to an 8-3 A’s victory. So far, so good.

Oakland scored in each inning from the 3rd through the 6th, knocking around former teammate Jason Hammel as well as Chris Young, who isn’t a former teammate but has the same name as a guy who is. Jed Lowrie drove in three runs, and the veteran stopgaps generally led the way with a balanced and relentless offensive attack.

Secant touch this

In Triggs’ first start against the Angels, he had to gut through season-debut jitters and some shaky defense behind him. This time around, the sailing was quite a bit smoother. Only one of his six innings went 1-2-3, but only once did the Royals even get as far as third base against him. By inning:

  1. Leadoff walk and infield single, GIDP ends it
  2. Leadoff double, reaches 3rd, stranded
  3. 1-2-3
  4. Leadoff bloop double, stranded
  5. One-out single, stranded
  6. 1-2-(error)-3, specifically a fielding error by Triggs

The Royals often had a baserunner, but simply couldn’t string together any rallies against the crafty sidewinder. His final line: 6 ip, 0 runs, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 4 hits, 90 pitches.

Triggs’ fastball topped out at 92.5 mph according to Gameday, and exceeded 91 mph several more times. That’s a good sign after he maxed out at 90.1 in his first start; you expect to see a pitcher increase his velocity over his first handful of starts, but at the same time it’s a nice peace of mind when the increase to normalcy does in fact come.

Another thing that returned in Triggs’ second start: swings and misses. Last week he recorded only three swinging strikes against the Angels, but on Wednesday he matched that total in the 1st inning alone en route to 11 total whiffs by the Royals. He’s a smoke-and-mirrors guy, relying a lot on his deceptive delivery and wicked movement, and he’s more about efficiency than strikeouts. But still, that discrepancy in whiffs does a good job of illustrating how much more in control he was against Kansas City than against the Halos, despite the similar results.

After two games, Triggs has a 0.00 ERA. Just like we all expected?

Not Hammel Time

It took the A’s a couple innings to get going on offense against starter Jason Hammel, but once they did there was no stopping them. In each of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, they got their leadoff man on base and then brought him around to score. By inning:

3rd: Trevor Plouffe singles, followed by a Rajai Davis RBI double
4th: Khris Davis and Stephen Vogt single, then Yonder Alonso (single) and Plouffe (sac fly) knock ‘em in
5th: Marcus Semien singles, steals 2nd, wild pitch to 3rd, and then home on Jed Lowrie’s sac fly — a Rajai Run Semien Score! (Hammel then pulled from the game)
6th: The knockout punch. Meet me at the next paragraph for the details.

Ryon Healy led off the 6th with a double to deeeeep right field, and Plouffe worked a tough walk to finish setting the table. That brought Chris Young in to take the bump for K.C., and he didn’t retire his first four batters: RBI single by Rajai, walk by Semien, RBI single by Matt Joyce, two-run double by Lowrie. By the time the frame was over, the A’s lead had grown from 4-0 to 8-0.

You might notice a lot of names mentioned in that play-by-play, and that’s because every single A’s hitter either drove in or scored at least one run. They all got in on the action in this game, with a full team effort— the whole four-inning extended rally felt like something the Royals would have done themselves the last few years, full of hustle and clutch hits. Three different Royals pitchers had disastrous outings, between Hammel, Travis Wood, and Young.

A couple more notes about the A’s offense:

  • Rajai’s two RBI hits got him over the Mendoza Line. He’s 5-for-13 with three doubles and two walks over his last four games.
  • Semien’s two walks raise his team-leading total to eight. His OBP (.368) is nearly 200 points higher than his average (.172).
  • Semien was the only Athletic not to notch a hit, and everyone except Alonso reached base at least twice.

It was a good day.

Royals finally score at home

Kansas City didn’t score for the first 16 innings of this series, and thus their first 16 innings at home this season, but they finally got on the board in garbage time against the A’s bullpen. Ryan Dull threw a clean inning, but Liam Hendriks ran into a spot of trouble and Frankie Montas allowed a solo homer to Raul Mondesi (who also nearly went yard against Triggs earlier for one of the few loud outs).

On the bright side, Montas’ velocity continues to creep up toward his ceiling, as he popped off heaters of 99.1 and 99.2 mph (never mind that they resulted in a homer and Ball 2).

The A’s are now above .500 at 5-4, and they’ve wrapped up their first series win of the year. They play the finale tomorrow at 5:15 p.m. PT, with Jesse Hahn making his first start of the year. He’ll face Jason Vargas.