Braves: Ian Anderson returns to midseason form in return against Giants

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After missing over a month with a shoulder injury, rookie Ian Anderson returned to the bump yesterday to face the team with MLB’s best record so far this season. It almost seems silly to call Anderson a rookie after what he did last year during the COVID shortened campaign, helping carry the team to the NLCS behind several marvelous playoff performances. That kind of experience will help a pitcher mature quickly at this level, which is why it was a surprise to nobody to see him completely shut down one of the best lineups in baseball.

Anderson found the most trouble he would face all day in the first inning. A single and a two-out walk forced him to toss some stressful pitches in the Atlanta heat, but a soft fly out off the bat of Brandon Crawford would end the frame without any damage. From there, Anderson would settle in, and the Braves bats woke up after being shut down Saturday night.

Jorge Soler, who has turned out to be another critical addition to this team, mashed his seventh homer in a Braves uniform to start off the scoring. And two batters later, Austin Riley joined in on the party with his 28th long ball of the season to give the Braves a three-run lead.

That would be all Anderson needed. The 23-year-old cruised through the rest of his outing. He didn’t strike out a single batter, but he was able to induce soft contact all afternoon, limiting the Giants to just four singles and a couple of walks over 5.2 innings. I was a little surprised Brian Snitker pull him when he did. Anderson only threw 86 pitches, but it made sense not to push things and get him out of the game while he was still feeling good.

Tyler Matzek relieved Anderson and got the final out of the sixth. Brian Snitker then turned to Richard Rodriguez, A.J. Minter, and Touki Toussaint for the seventh, eighth, and ninth. The three combined to throw three scoreless innings while allowing just one hit, as the Braves cruised to a 9-0 win and a series victory over the Giants.

It was a nice bounce back for Atlanta after they were swept in their two-game series versus the Yankees, but Anderson’s performance in his return made it ten times sweeter. Not that it should have surprised anyone. The kid has shown time and time again that pressure doesn’t get to him. I’ve yet to see him flinch, and it seems when the stakes are the highest, he performs his absolute best. The Braves have a lot of talented young pitchers, but Anderson sure feels like the one that will become the ace of this staff for years to come.

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