ORACLE PARK — At 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning in south Florida, Linda Anderson heard her husband Keith’s cell phone buzz on the other side of the bed. He didn’t wake up. She could hardly sleep, and she couldn’t reach over. She’d seen the San Francisco Giants’ recent pitching transactions. She knew it had something to do with their son.
Linda tossed and turned all night, until, at 5 a.m., Keith woke her. Their son, Shaun Anderson, the No. 4 prospect in the Giants’ system, would be making his Major League debut on Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Twenty-four hours later, the Andersons — as part of a seven-strong retinue — arrived in San Francisco to watch as Shaun made his first big league start. He gave up just two hits and two earned runs in five innings, and though he was saddled with the no-decision in a 4-3 Giants win, he showed off some tools that should make him a part of San Francisco’s future plans and made a little bit of history.
“Nice debut for him,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “He had to pitch in traffic, we didn’t play our best defense, and they got a couple cheap runs, but overall, I thought he did a nice job.”
Anderson earned his second call-up to the majors on Tuesday, after posting a 4.11 ERA through seven starts in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League — well below the league average of 5.22 — where he struck out 37 batters in 35 innings while holding hitters to a .252 average. Previously, he’d been called up to pitch last August against the New York Mets, but was sent down without seeing the field.
“I was happy that there was a date this time,” Anderson said. “Family all made it, and we got the win.”
Acquired in a 2017 trade that sent infielder Eduardo Núñez to the Boston Red Sox, Anderson, a former Florida closer, brings a reliever’s mentality to the mound, and it showed.
On Wednesday, Anderson’s diving slider got three swinging strikes and seven called strikes at the bottom of the zone. He sat between 89 and 95 with his fastball and got five strikeouts on the day. As a bonus, he also got a pair of hits, including one of San Francisco’s seven that went for extra bases. He credited working with Madison Bumgarner, who worked with him on hitting during spring training, and also Sacramento first baseman Zach Green.
“I actually like borrowing bats,” Anderson said. “Last year, I used Aramis [Garcia]’s bat, and this year, I had Zach Green’s bat. I asked if I could take his bats up with me, and he said, ‘Only if you get some hits with it.’”
In the bottom of the second, after a two-run Garcia home run gave the Giants a 3-1 lead, Anderson came up and popped a 109-mph double into the right center field gap in his first big-league at-bat. No one was more surprised than Garcia, who thought Anderson would hurt himself swinging at times last season.
In the stands, Linda jumped up and down, waving her arms and high-fiving everyone in her row. Moments before, the man sitting behind her asked, “Yeah, but can he hit?”
Known as a fierce competitor who, Garcia said, has taken to staring down batters who take swings he doesn’t like, Anderson seemed to settle down after that first base hit.
“A little debut magic,” Garcia said.
Two innings later, he shot a single through the left side, becoming the first Giants pitcher to turn in a multi-hit game in his MLB debut in the modern era (since 1900), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I didn’t know he could hit like that,” Bochy said. “That’s a pretty nice debut, getting two hits.”
Once again, Linda stood up and waved her arms above her head, high fiving daughter Stephanie, 27, and son Jack, 17.
Jack, like his big brother, is a pitcher at American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida, where Shaun trains in the offseason along with Garcia. Back home, Plantation baseball was watching the start before their own regional playoff game (Jack wasn’t slated to pitch, so his absence was forgiven).
Stephanie, an electrical engineer in Denver, heard from Shaun before the rest of the family, since she was in his time zone.
After Linda and Keith heard the news on Tuesday, Linda — an ESL teacher at American Heritage — got a half day, and the family and the Giants worked together to wrangle everybody — including Anderson’s best friend Brandon, trainer Scott and girlfriend Marisa — for a six-hour flight to San Francisco. They’d hoped he’d debut in two weeks in Miami, but instead, Linda gleefully packed a custom Giants home jersey Shaun had bought her for Christmas, with the family name on the back and no number — a jersey she wore on Wednesday.
The Anderson contingent saw a lively performance from the Giants offense, which came up with a two-out RBI double by Pablo Sandoval in the first (a rare feat this season for San Francisco) and a two-run Garcia homer in the third.
On the mound, Anderson came up big in several key spots and had some rough patches, but nothing that can’t be smoothed over.
After allowing a two-out first-inning run on a double by Freddy Galvis, he threw a perfect two-strike fastball at 95 mph right under Teoscar Hernandez’s hands to strand two men in scoring position.
After walking Brandon Drury on four pitches in the top of the third, he uncorked a pair of wild pitches that allowed Drury to score. In the fourth, he settled back in and retired the Blue Jays in order.
Drury, though, came up again in the fifth and reached on an Evan Longoria throwing error, and an errant pickoff throw moved him to third. He scored on an RBI groundout to tie things at 3-3.
Once Anderson exited, Brandon Crawford sent his second homer of the year to left in the bottom of the sixth to give the Giants the winning margin. Mark Melancon got the win, and Will Smith pitched a clean ninth for his 11th straight save this season as the bullpen allowed three hits in four shutout innings.
“It would have been nice to get him a win,” said Bochy, whose team went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. “We had our chances.”
As Linda and the rest of the Anderson contingent waited outside the Giants locker room, Bochy said that, as of now, their boy will make a start the next turn through.
“He’s in the rotation right now,” Bochy said.