ANAHEIM, Calif. — Drew Anderson was called up from Double A Reading on Tuesday. He’s headed back there Wednesday, manager Pete Mackanin said after the Phillies’ 7-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, with a corresponding roster move set to be announced (see Instant Replay).
In between those two cross-country flights, the 23-year-old made his major-league debut. He got to pitch against two-time American League MVP Mike Trout. And with his mom, dad and girlfriend in the crowd at Angel Stadium, Anderson struck out the best player in the game.
“It was a rush,” Anderson said, a mixture of awe and giddiness still evident on his face. “It was fun. I’m glad I got in, got an inning and struck out Mike Trout.”
After the Phillies traded Joaquin Benoit on Monday — a transaction Mackanin found out about in the fifth inning of the 7-6 win over the Atlanta Braves — and with Luis Garcia and closer Hector Neris not available after pitching against the Braves, Anderson became the stopgap option to fill out the roster for a night.
In the eighth inning, Anderson got his chance to play. He gave up one earned run, while another was scored as unearned because of a throwing error.
When Trout came up to bat, Anderson threw the first pitch over his head.
“It was like, ‘Oh, boy. Here we go,’” Anderson said.
But then he got after the perennial All-Star. Trout struck out on a foul tip, and Anderson had the story of all stories to share, whether it is in the Fightin Phils’ locker room later this week or at home 20 years from now.
For the Phillies, the story in the bullpen now is about figuring out who can contribute. Mackanin knew what relievers Benoit and Pat Neshek, also dealt in the last week, could provide as the bridge from a starting pitcher to Neris. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough chances this season for the veterans to protect a lead.
After the Phillies traded the two proven arms, Mackanin wants to see if any of the youngsters on his roster can show signs of that same consistency. Garcia is set to handle the eighth inning for the moment, Neris has converted 10 of 13 save opportunities, but everything else is to be determined
The time is right to see what 24-year-old Jesen Therrien, 26-year-old Mark Leiter Jr., 26-year-old Hoby Milner or 27-year-old Adam Morgan can provide, Mackanin said.
“I don’t think we’re going to win the pennant. You never know, but I've got to find out if they can be a piece,” Mackanin said before the game.
Leiter handled the seventh inning against the Angels. He was promptly taught a harsh lesson by Albert Pujols, who crushed his 608th career home run to put the game out of reach.
Aaron Nola had pitched a solid game before that, giving up a two-out, two-run double to Pujols in the fifth that erased an early 1-0 lead for the Phillies on a Tommy Joseph RBI. But the offense finally cooled off after five straight wins. Add in a couple of mistakes to an all-time great, the streak was over.
“I wish that (Angels manager Mike) Scioscia gave Pujols the night off because he did some damage,” Mackanin said. “Nola pitched very well, did a good job, continued to pitch well. We stranded too many baserunners, couldn’t get any offense going after winning those five in a row. We kind of just didn’t swing the bats that well.”
Still, the Phillies had one moment worth remembering in Anderson’s one strikeout.
“You know what, the runs that scored aside, he struck out one of the best, if not arguably the best player in baseball,” Mackanin said. “I was thrilled that he did that, just for him. He had a smile on his face.”
Said Anderson: “It was a good experience. Can’t wait to do it again.”