KANSAS CITY – Rajai Davis says the way Andrew Triggs has pitched in his first two starts, including Wednesday’s 8-3 win over Kansas City, he’s going to be a tough matchup for any hitter.
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Most starting pitchers deliver the ball from a mostly overhead or three-quarters overhead delivery. Triggs comes at hitters with something close to a sidearm motion, and it can be nasty. He allowed the Royals, the team that first drafted him, just four hits and no runs in six innings
In his first 11.2 innings this year, the A’s No. 4 starting pitcher is 2-0 and has allowed just one unearned run.
“As long as he’s in the strike zone the way he is, he’s going to be tough on everybody,” the Oakland center fielder said. “He’s in the zone so much, he’s forcing hitters to expand the zone. You don’t know if his ball is going straight, if it’s going to tail away or cut back in toward your bat. It’s tough. He’s been in the zone, throwing strikes, and that’s the key.
#athletics Andrew Triggs liked his command Wednesday and the defense he got in beating #Royals pic.twitter.com/PmT8sNUoF8
— John Hickey (@JHickey3) April 13, 2017
“You don’t see a guy come from the side much, not as a starter. Those guys come out of the bullpen mostly. When you have to see them two or three times, ooof. It could be difficult.”
Of course, it’s not all just about the pitcher. It’s about the help the pitcher gets. In Wednesday’s case, the offense came up with 12 hits and bunched eight runs between the third and the sixth innings so Triggs could hand an 8-0 lead to his bullpen.
Even at that, Triggs needed Davis to make a diving catch with a man at third base to keep Alcides Escobar from driving in the game’s first run in the second inning.
“Shoot, if that ball falls with two out and a man on,” Triggs said, “it would be a different game. It would be an early run.”
Davis was willing to give all the credit for this one to the 2-0 Triggs, but even he knew his catch was a major boost to the Oakland cause as the 5-4 A’s beat Kansas City for the eighth consecutive time dating back to last April.
“I thought it was a game-changer,” Davis said. “If they get a run there, it would give them the momentum and the chance to score more. That’s huge.”
With that run kept off the board, Triggs went right back to his sidearm stylings against the team that drafted him back in 2012.
“I think my fastball command was better opposed to last time out,” Triggs said. “My cutter, both sides of the plate, was pretty good. My breaking ball, the bigger one, wasn’t as sharp today, but (catcher Stephen) Vogt did such a good job of mixing things up to keep those guys off balance.”
And then there was the offense. Rajai Davis got the A’s on the board with a double in the third, Yonder Alonso with a single and Trevor Plouffe with a sacrifice fly brought two more runs home in the fourth and Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly in the fifth made it 4-0.
That was just prelude to the sixth when Oakland chased home four more runs on hits by Rajai Davis and Matt Joyce and two more on a bases-loaded Lowrie double that wasn’t far from being a grand slam.
“We were just nicking them up, one at-bat at a time,” a satisfied Melvin said. The A’s got hits from eight of their nine starters, and the man who didn’t leadoff hitter Marcus Semien, walked twice and scored two runs.
The A’s have sewn up winning their first series of the year and can sweep with a victory behind starter Jesse Hahn Thursday.
Jharel Cotton grew up with Pedro Martinez as an idol. When it turned out that Martinez was a fan of his – he raved able Cotton both on MLB Network and in tweets Monday into Tuesday – Cotton was thrilled. Then he saw Martinez, who like Cotton claimed 45 as a uniform number and is 5-11 with a nasty changeup – followed him on Twitter. “He followed me, so I followed him right back,” Cotton said. “That’s cool.”
Sonny Gray will face hitters in two “innings” of about 15 pitches each midafternoon Thursday. If that goes well, he could be cleared to begin a series of injury rehabilitation assignments. He’s hoping to be back with the A’s by the end of the month.
John Axford, the reliever who went on the disabled list just a couple of days into the season, still doesn’t have a date when he can begin throwing again. He’ll need to do some strengthening exercises, too.
Pitcher Chris Bassitt, on his way back from last year’s Tommy John surgery, will throw to hitters at the A’s extended spring camp in Mesa on Friday.
Jed Lowrie moved into the No. 3 spot in the batting order Wednesday with Ryon Healy, mired in a .156 start to the season, dropping to sixth. The move worked, Lowrie getting his first three-RBI game since Sept. 13, 2015 when he was with the Astros. Melvin said he expected to see Healy back batting third as the season progresses. “He’ll be back, there’s no doubt,” Melvin said.
Triple-A third baseman Matt Chapman, on the disabled list with Nashville, had an MRI on his ailing left wrist. The MRI showed no structural damage.
Khris Davis had two hits and heads into Thursday having reached base safely in all eight games this season and in a career-best 18 consecutive games dating back to last Sept. 23. His previous career long was 15 games.