SAN FRANCISCO -- Shaun Anderson, the rookie right-hander, didn't hesitate when asked late Tuesday night if there's anything he has learned through his first two starts.
"Trust the defense," he said.
Anderson had a couple of highlight plays behind him in a 4-3 Giants win, but those eight fielders also are quickly learning that they can trust the new guy. For a second straight start, Anderson went out there and put up a solid performance. He kept the Giants within striking distance on a night when the offense completely disappeared for about two hours, allowing Joe Panik to walk it off in the ninth.
"Wins like that are awesome," Anderson said. "I tried to keep the game close. If we would have lost by one run there, I would have maybe had a salty taste in my mouth after giving up a run in the sixth."
Much of this season is now about evaluation, so here are three new things we learned about Anderson on Tuesday:
--- He mixed it up instead of just leaning on his good fastball (which he talked about on this week's Giants Insider Podcast), and the changeup was particularly effective. Anderson threw 12 of them, getting two called strikes, two swinging strikes, and a foul ball. The Braves didn't put a changeup in play, and it was the finisher for two of Anderson's three strikeouts.
Ronald Acuña Jr., who led off Monday's game with a homer, waved over the top of a two-strike 86 mph changeup while leading off Tuesday. Austin Riley's massive swing didn't come close to connected to an 84 mph change in the fourth, and he looked up at the replay as he walked back to the dugout.
"That's always been a pitch I feel good with," Anderson said. "I usually go to the slider (with two strikes) because I feel confident with that, but we were mixing everything with Buster. We gave them a different look."
The concern when Anderson was in the minors was that he might end up a reliever. But if the changeup becomes a weapon along with the fastball and slider, he'll have more than enough to turn lineups over.
--- Anderson has been talking to Madison Bumgarner a lot, and the staff's ace surely smiled while watching three specific pitches Tuesday. Anderson kept moving the Braves off the plate, partly because he was wild at times, and it was effective. He came up-and-in three times.
With two on in the first, Dansby Swanson got one in around the hands. He leaned way back and hopped away from the plate. Later in the at-bat, he flew out on a slider down and away. Riley was buzzed while leading off the fourth during the at-bat that ended with the strikeout. Acuña had one up near his head in the fifth and then flew out on a slider.
"He goes in and out well," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He attacked inside. He had a couple of wild pitches there going in, but he's got an edge to him. He competes so well, that's what you like about him."
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Anderson won't get away with too many like the ones that were near Riley and Acuña's heads, but the pitch to Swanson was effective, and the collection of pitches showed he has no fear about pitching inside. That's important at this level.
--- A week after he became the first Giants pitcher with two hits in his debut, Anderson was 0-for-1. But he successfully put down a sacrifice bunt, which is something Giants pitchers haven't done much of in the past two seasons. And his strikeout took 10 pitches out of Julio Teheran's arm. Anderson fouled off four before going down.
He's not going to be Bumgarner -- nobody is -- but doing the little things like getting bunts down and having good at-bats is going to help out quite a bit over the course of a season.