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Giants win in Shaun Anderson’s solid debut

The organization’s top pitching prospect impressed on the mound and at the plate.

Toronto Blue Jays v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

This was a game that the Giants probably should have won 6 to 1. The Giants wasted two lead-off doubles in the game, and two of the Blue Jays runs were the direct result of two separate chains of defensive miscues. They wound up winning an equally fun and frustrating game that was punctuated by the Giants’ rookies.

Shaun Anderson, the team’s top pitching prospect, made his major league debut. He quickly established himself as a Giants starter by giving up a run in the first inning. He primarily threw his slider the first time through the order. Later, he relied on his fastball which sat between 92 and 95 mph with sink and cut. He got ahead of most hitters, but he had trouble putting guys away.

In his first encounter with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Anderson quickly got Vlad down 0-2, but Guerrero wouldn’t bite on the slider. It’s unfathomable that Vlad Jr. slumped for even just a teensy bit. He doesn’t chase anything outside the strike zone, and he doesn’t miss anything in the strike zone.

I think Shaun Anderson has been traumatized by the juiced ball in the PCL. When Randall Grichuk hit a fly ball in the first, Anderson went into an “aw dangit” crouch.

Grichuk’s fly wasn’t hit particularly hard. It wasn’t even Oracle that kept that ball in the yard. I think the only park that’s a homer is Minute Maid with the Crawford Boxes. But in the PCL where everyone has an OPS over 1.000, any fly ball has a chance of going out.

After the strikeout on Rowdy Tellez and Grichuk’s fly out, Anderson nearly escaped a two-on, nobody out situation. But because the Giants are incapable of making it out of the first inning without allowing a run, Freddy Galvis doubled on the only curveball Anderson threw in the inning.

Anderson mostly settled in after the first. He gave up another run in the third when a wild pitch allowed Brandon Drury to advance to second and another wild pitch allowed him to score. Drury would have been out at the plate had Anderson held on to the feed from Aramís García. His day ended in the fifth with another unearned run. Evan Longoria made a throwing error and in solidarity, Anderson threw a pick-off throw down the line allowing Brandon Drury to advance to third.

He easily could have left the game with a 3-1 lead with solid defense. As is, Anderson had to settle for three runs in five innings with five strikeouts and three walks. He had nine swinging strikes on 96 pitches which is perfectly average. Six of those came on the fastball, and the other three came on the slider. As sharp as the break looked, the Blue Jays weren’t fooled by Anderson’s best secondary pitch.

He didn’t kick in the door and violently depose the Blue Jays as a warning to the rest of the league that he is coming, but he didn’t self-immolate either. I’m looking forward to Anderson’s next start though I worry about how his secondary pitches will play.

As impressive as Anderson was on the mound, he looked even better at the plate. In his first at-bat, Anderson smoked a double to Triples Alley. It was the second hardest-hit ball by a Giants player all day.

When the broadcast brought up the Statcast metrics, the graphic showed that Anderson’s double would have been a homer in five other ballparks, which is a neat, new feature. From now, we’ll get to see how badly someone was AT&T’d in real-time.

A double would have been plenty for Anderson, but in his second at bat, he added another hit through the five and six hole. Kevin Pillar, who had led the inning off with a double, probably could have scored had he not hesitated at the crack of the bat. Regardless, Shaun Anderson has a 3.60 ERA and is batting 1.000. That’ll play.

The Giants added a rare first-inning run of their own. While they couldn’t stop the other team from scoring, they kept their first-inning run differential steady. This run was thanks to none other than Pablo Sandoval who doubled over the head of Randall Grichuk. Sandoval has easily become the Giants’ best hitter as he now boasts a 137 wRC+ through 80 plate appearances. If the season were to end today, Sandoval’s 0.6 fWAR would be his best since 2013, his last year with the Giants before he signed with the Red Sox.

In the first two innings, Aramís García threw out a would-be base burglar and hit a two-run bomb.

He hasn’t gotten into many games since his call-up last Thursday, but so far, he’s done what he last year: hit dingers and strike out. I find it to be a fair trade-off. When Posey returns from the IL, García is likely heading back to Sacramento. I’m glad that he got at least one dinger in before he gets sent back.

Brandon Crawford also hit a dinger, just his second of the year.

Crawford hasn’t gone on the same sort of tear he did last May, but he hasn’t been nearly as dreadful. Since the beginning of the month, Crawford is now hitting .233/.313/.419 which is a totally normal slash line for Brandon Crawford. If, for the rest of the year, he can just be the guy he’s been the last two weeks, he’ll be fine.

Of course, hoping that a Giant will hit their median projection is asking a lot. If doing what they were supposed to do was a given, 2017 never would have happened.