Athletics

Triggs helps A's nail down eighth win in a row over Royals

Triggs helps A's nail down eighth win in a row over Royals

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.

After country music detour, Giles instrumental in A's ballpark quest

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After country music detour, Giles instrumental in A's ballpark quest

As the A’s Chief Operating Officer, Chris Giles’ thoughts and energies are wired into the business world, helping the team plan for a new ballpark and brainstorming all ways possible to bring in more revenue.

From talking to him, you wouldn’t guess that Giles once walked away from the white-collar sports management world to pursue a country music career.

Giles left a vice president position with the 49ers in November 2015, picking up an acoustic guitar, writing and recording a three-song EP, “Party Me”, that he performed at club shows all around Northern California.

He still performs once or twice a month on the weekend. It’s quite a contrast from his Monday-thru-Friday gig, but that’s exactly the point. In the lyrics to the song “Party Me”, Giles addresses the ambition and drive required in the 9-to-5 world and the reward of blowing off steam with buddies afterward.

“It’s a hobby, I’ll always do it,” Giles shares in the latest edition of The A’s Insider Podcast. “I still play once or twice a month locally, small acoustic stuff.”

Giles grew up in Clovis and sang in talent shows as a kid before becoming a high school wrestler.

“Randy Travis was my favorite as a kid,” he said. “I can remember writing his lyrics on construction paper and giving it to girls on the playground.”

Giles’ career in sales and marketing eventually led him to the 49ers, where he became VP of sales and strategy and played an instrumental role in the opening of Levi’s Stadium. He oversaw premium sales, seat license sales, concessions and retail among other responsibilities.

But he never lost his desire to pursue a music career.

“It was one of those things where I felt like if I didn’t give it a try, then I would always just regret it,” said Giles, who is married with three kids. “I enjoy writing songs, I love playing live. I was running around with a couple other artists, we were collaborating on a couple things. It just seemed like a logical point to give it a go.”

He eventually returned to the sports world with the NFL, running sales and marketing efforts for Super Bowl LI. But it’s his experience with the launch of Levi’s Stadium that appears to make him an especially good fit with the A’s, who plan to announce by the end of the calendar year a location in Oakland to build a new ballpark.

Opening a new stadium is one thing. Finding ways to maximize revenue from that venue is another, and that’s where Giles’ expertise factors in. He’s got an instrumental voice in how the ballpark will be designed and what features it will include.

He came aboard in an advisory role for A’s president Dave Kaval in March and was named the team’s COO in early July. Joining the franchise at this point, with so many ambitious plans for the future, is energizing to him.

“I think we’re approaching a rocket ship that’s sitting on the ground,” Giles said. “We’re not quite sure which rocket boosters work, but we know we’ve got a rocket ship. Our job is to make sure we tune that thing up and get it ready to go.”

A's blow back-and-forth battle with the Royals, drop series

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A's blow back-and-forth battle with the Royals, drop series

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Alex Gordon hit a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the ninth after Oakland tied it in the bottom of the eighth, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Athletics 7-6 on Wednesday.

Alcides Escobar doubled to start the ninth against Blake Treinen (1-1), matching his season high with three hits. Then Gordon delivered his second run-scoring single of the series finale.

Oakland's Matt Chapman hit a tying two-run homer in the eighth against Brandon Maurer (1-1), who wound up the winner.

Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Danny Duffy struck out eight over five innings but the Royals couldn't hold a late lead again before holding on - a day after squandering a four-run advantage in a 10-8 defeat.

Cain added a key RBI single in the eighth for the Royals, who began the day tied with Minnesota six games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland.

Kelvin Herrera finished for his 26th save in 29 chances after allowing Ryon Healy's two-out infield single.

Duffy's winless stretch reached four outings since a victory at Detroit on July 25. The left-hander earned his first major league win at Oakland on June 14, 2011, and has never lost to the A's - 3-0 in seven career appearances and six starts - but hasn't beaten them since April 10, 2012.

Marcus Semien hit a two-run homer in the third and Oakland got back in it on Jed Lowrie's two-run single in the fifth.

Kansas City's Melky Cabrera fouled a ball off his leg in the third and went down writhing in pain before recovering to hit a single on the very next pitch to load the bases with no outs. But Blackburn struck out Mike Moustakas and induced an inning-ending double play from Brandon Moss to escape unscathed.

A's starter Paul Blackburn was tagged for eight hits and four runs in four innings of his first career start against Kansas City, striking out two and walking three.

MINOR LEAGUE TRADE

The A's acquired lefty Sam Moll from Colorado for a player to be named later or cash then optioned him to Triple-A Nashville. Oakland added right-hander Chris Hatcher to the 25-man roster and he made his A's debut in the sixth inning, a day after coming to Oakland in a trade from the Dodgers. The A's optioned righty Josh Smith to Nashville and designated righty Zach Neal for assignment to clear 40-man roster space to add Moll.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: RHP Joakim Soria - who allowed four straight hits in the eighth inning Tuesday night - is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday after stiffness in his lat and ribcage area to determine when he can pitch again. The reliever showed up to the Coliseum with discomfort. "He's been battling with it for two weeks, he's been pitching through it, he's been pitching very effectively through it," manager Ned Yost said. "But after last night he showed up more so than usual."

Athletics: Josh Phegley (strained left oblique) was slated to catch five or six innings in a rehab game for Triple-A Nashville at Tacoma. ... OF Jake Smolinski, on the disabled list since March 30 recovering from right shoulder surgery, isn't expected to be able to play in the outfield until "well into September," manager Bob Melvin said.

UP NEXT

Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy (4-8, 4.80 ERA) starts Friday at home against the first-place Indians trying to snap a 14-start winless stretch at Kaufmann Stadium since a victory vs. Minnesota on Aug. 20 last year.

Athletics: Following Thursday's day off, LHP Sean Manaea (8-7, 4.59) starts at Houston on Friday looking to end a five-start winless stretch in which he's 0-2 since beating Cleveland on July 16.