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.

A's lineup: In rare move, Melvin makes no changes vs Astros

A's lineup: In rare move, Melvin makes no changes vs Astros

PROGRAMMING NOTE: A's-Astros coverage begins at 4pm with Pregame Live on NBC Sports California and streaming right here.

After winning their fourth straight game on Tuesday, the A's are trotting out the same lineup Wednesday against the Astros.

Oakland A's:
1. Matt Joyce (L) LF
2. Matt Olson (L) RF
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) DH
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Ryon Healy (R) 3B
7. Bruce Maxwell (L) C
8. Franklin Barreto (R) SS
9. Jaycob Brugman (L) CF
Jesse Hahn -- RHP

Houston Astros:
1. George Springer (R) CF
2. Josh Reddick (L) RF
3. Jose Altuve (R) 2B
4. Carlos Correa (R) SS
5. Brian McCann (L) C
6. Carlos Beltran (S) DH
7. Marwin Gonzalez (S) 3B
8. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
9. Norichika Aoki (L) LF
David Paulino -- RHP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's streak-extending win over Astros

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's streak-extending win over Astros

BOX SCORE

The A’s took a noteworthy step toward changing the narrative in their recent history against the Houston Astros.

Coming through during clutch moments, both at the plate and on the mound, Oakland beat baseball’s best team 6-4 Tuesday at Minute Maid Park to run their winning streak to four.

Ryon Healy hit his first career grand slam to snap a 1-1 tie in the sixth, and starter Sean Manaea notched his first victory in seven career starts against the Astros, throwing 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

George Springer’s three-run homer off Liam Hendriks pulled Houston to within two runs in the ninth, but with two runners aboard, Santiago Casilla coaxed a 3-6-1 double play from Brian McCann to end it.

The A’s (35-42), who have stumbled so badly on the road for the majority of this season, moved to 4-0 on this six-game road trip and defeated the Astros (52-26) for just the second time in their past 17 meetings with them.

Key two-out rallies: They came in with a majors-worst .225 average with runners in scoring position, but the A’s delivered in some key at-bats and scored five of their six runs with two outs. Bruce Maxwell singled home Khris Davis in the second to get the A’s on the board. Then with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, with the score 1-1, Ryon Healy capped an eight-pitch at-bat with an opposite-field grand slam, his 18th homer of the season.

Making himself at home: Sean Manaea (7-4) flirted with danger throughout his 5 2/3 innings but wound up registering his first victory in seven career starts against Houston. He stranded two runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings, then wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth with minimal damage. With no outs and the bags filled, Manaea fell behind 3-0 to Evan Gattis. Gattis chased a low pitch that would have been ball four and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. A run scored on the play but that play defused the rally and Manaea escaped with just the one run scoring that kept it a 1-1 game. The lefty gave up nine hits, but he’s now allowed just one earned run over three career starts at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park (16 IP).

Madson comes up clutch: Ryan Madson took two losses in four appearances at Minute Maid Park last season and allowed five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. But manager Bob Melvin called on him in a crucial situation Tuesday, with two runners aboard and George Springer hitting in the sixth with the A’s up 5-1. Madson got Springer swinging on a 97 mile-per-hour fastball to end the inning and keep Houston from jumping back into the game after Oakland had scored four to command the lead. Madson retired all four batters he faced with three strikeouts.

Maxwell continues his roll: The A’s catcher went 3-for-4 and is 10-for-18 since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville. He also threw out Jose Altuve trying to steal second in the first.

Casilla slams the door: After Springer’s three-run shot in the ninth, Santiago Casilla entered and allowed singles to Altuve and Carlos Correa to bring the winning run to the plate. But Casilla retired pinch hitter Josh Reddick on a foul pop out and got McCann on the game-ending double play, getting over to cover first to cap the play.