Athletics’ Triggs aims for better showing vs. Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Oakland right-hander Andrew Triggs, who came up through the Royals’ system, will start Wednesday night for the Athletics in the second game of the series at Kansas City.
Triggs faced the Royals on March 27 in spring training in Arizona. It was an unpleasant experience.
Triggs gave up eight runs on eight hits, two walks and a hit batter in 3 2/3 innings in a 10-3 loss. Mike Moustakas, Brandon Moss and Paulo Orlando homered off Triggs while Lorenzo Cain and Raul Mondesi contributed doubles.
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Triggs, however, won his season opener by beating the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 on Thursday. Triggs yielded one unearned run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings.
While Triggs was a starter at Southern Cal, he had been primarily a reliever in the minors. Oakland gave him seven starts last season as a rookie and he responded with a 1-1 record and a 2.70 ERA, while striking out 23 and walking one over 26 2/3 innings.
The Royals will counter with right-hander Jason Hammel, who received a no-decision in his first start. He allowed three runs on six innings in a Thursday start at Minnesota.
Hammel is 4-1 with a 3.75 ERA in seven outings against the A’s.
Hammel is undefeated in his past six April starts. He has a career 21-10 record with a 3.79 ERA in 45 April appearances, 42 of them starts. This will be his first start in a Royals’ uniform at Kauffman Stadium.
While the Royals’ starting pitchers have a 2.88 ERA in the first seven games, the offense has been a concern.
Terrance Gore is invaluable as a pinch runner for the Royals. He possesses game-changing speed, capable of stealing any base at any time.
Gore, however, did not get off the bench the first six games. He did get into Monday’s 2-0 loss to the Athletics, running for Salvador Perez, who singled with two outs in the ninth inning.
Gore was optioned Tuesday to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, while the Royals will make a corresponding move before their game Wednesday against the A’s.
To get the most out of Gore, the Royals need people on base to utilize his speed. Base runners have been at a premium this season for the Royals. They had three hits — all singles — in the loss to the A’s.
Kansas City has four or fewer hits in three of the first seven games. A’s rookie right-hander Jharel Cotton blanked the Royals on two hits for seven innings in the latter’s home opener. Relievers Santiago Casilla and Sean Doolittle struck out six Royals in the final two innings.
“Cotton, man, he’s really a nice young pitcher,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “A really good slider, a tremendous changeup that he was commanding and a nice fastball that he was commanding. He was dynamite.
“But on the flip side, we’re just not swinging the bats. We haven’t got off to a good start offensively as a group.”
Yost acknowledged Salvador Perez (four homers) and Moustakas (three homers) are locked in.
“And the rest of us are still trying to find their way,” Yost said. “We know the quality of hitters we have on this team. We just have to wait for the bats to get hot.”
A’s left-hander Doolittle struck out former teammate Moss to end the game and stranded runners on the corners.
“It was a little bit weird, just because I know what he is capable of, and what he did in this ball park for us (two home runs in the A’s wild-card game loss in 2014),” Doolittle said. “He is a presence in the box. When he comes to plate, any time he comes to the plate but especially when he’s the go-ahead run, it was definitely not, ‘Hey, cool, I’m facing my old friend.’ It was intense.”
Cotton gives the A’s a glimpse into a rosy future on how good he could be.
“All around stud,” Khris Davis called him. Davis provided all the runs Monday with a two-run homer.
Cotton said he knew his pitch count would be between 90 and 100.
“I wanted to throw each and every one of them with 100 percent conviction, and I did that,” Cotton said. “That was my plan and I executed that plan.”
The Royals on Monday paid tribute to Yordano Ventura, a 25-year-old right-hander who died in a vehicle accident in his native Dominican Republic in January. Ventura was the Royals’ 2015 Opening Day starter.
“It’s motivation,” closer Kelvin Herrera said. “We’re going to give the best of us to honor him. He may not be with us physically, but he is with us in spirit.”