BALTIMORE -- There was a long line of handshakes and high-fives when Shaun Anderson returned to the dugout after completing his seventh and final inning. It had been 41 games since the Giants had celebrated such a deep start, but what really must have pleased the team's decision-makers was the way Anderson got back there.
With his pitch count approaching 100 in the seventh, the rookie struck out two and got a slow roller to short. Stevie Wilkerson led off the inning and saw 10 pitches before swinging through a fastball, and as Wilkerson turned towards the dugout, Anderson stood on the mound for a second, staring at the outfielder as he retreated.
“He’s a really good competitor,” manager Bruce Bochy said after an 8-2 win over the Orioles. “I thought he had good focus the whole game and just had a really, really determined look there.”
The Giants have been missing a lot of ingredients through an awful first third of the season. Beyond the obvious ones, though, they have also been missing an edge. Anderson is soft-spoken off the field, and teammates have already noted he's not one for lengthy conversations, but he pitches angry, and this roster certainly could use a lot more of that in the long run.
In the short term, the pitching staff simply needed someone to step up with innings, and Anderson was happy to carry a heavy load. He became the first Giants starter since Madison Bumgarner on April 13 to complete seven innings, throwing a career-high 105 pitches on a hot and muggy day at Camden Yards.
“I felt good,” he said. “I pride myself on making sure I take care of my body and making sure I’m ready for that.”
Anderson's push for a first big league win was backed by another strong day for the lineup. Brandon Belt drove in four runs, Buster Posey scored three before departing, and the rookie right-hander did the rest. Anderson scattered five hits and allowed two earned, walking one and striking out four.
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The third strikeout was the biggest one. Anderson knew the leadoff batter would determine his fate for the seventh inning, and he certainly seemed to enjoy winning that battle with Wilkerson.
“I knew my pitch count was going up. I knew I wanted to get through the seventh and he was taking me away from that,” Anderson said. “When he fouls pitches off like that it’s a battle. I didn’t want to walk him or give up a hit.”