Tyler Anderson tried not to get ahead of himself. The Giants starter hadn't gone the distance in 75 previous big league starts, so he tried not to think too much about what he was headed for as outs ticked by Saturday night.
But with a healthy lead in the ninth and his manager's support, Anderson started to look ahead. He said he looked around with two outs in the ninth and thought about what was at stake.
"Damn," Anderson recounted later, smiling. "We might be able to get through this thing."
Anderson threw his first complete game -- and the first by a Giants in two years -- in a 5-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks that was the fifth straight for the Giants. It was a big night for the team, and for the veteran left-hander, who has made it clear since summer camp that he wants to be in the rotation.
"I think about the conversation I had with T.A. and he said, 'Look, I want an opportunity to start every time through the rotation,' " Kapler said. "I told him, 'Look, if you dominate and you're just good every time through we're not going to take you out of the rotation.' I think he earned the right to continue to make starts."
Anderson was initially a fill-in with Drew Smyly and Jeff Samardzija going down, but now he looks like a solid piece for a rotation that has gotten hot in recent days. The lefty paired well with Chadwick Tromp, working at a fast pace that had the Diamondbacks completely off-balance. Tromp said he could see opposing hitters trying to call time the entire night.
Anderson didn't need much help, but he got a boost from Mike Yastrzemski in the sixth when the right fielder made a stunning catch at the wall that brought back memories of Hunter Pence in the postseason. The lineup broke through shortly thereafter, with Joey Bart providing a boost with his third double in three games. This one was inches from leaving the yard.
That gave Kapler the leeway to keep pushing with Anderson. This is a staff that doesn't even really want starters to face a lineup a third time if possible, but the bullpen's struggles have changed the math a bit, and for as much as Kapler is "new school," he also is acutely aware of milestones. He knew it would mean a lot to his starter to get that 27th out for the first time.
"As long as it's not at the expense of winning a baseball game for the team or as long as it doesn't put them at risk for injury, you certainly want to give them every opportunity to go after those milestones," Kapler said.
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Anderson gave up a leadoff double in the ninth but Kapler didn't budge from his spot near the dugout entrance. Three batters later, the game was over, and the Giants were one more step closer to contending. With the five straight wins, they have gotten within half a game of the Diamondbacks, who currently hold the eighth and final NL postseason spot.
"In a shortened season," Anderson said, "We believe there's an opportunity."