Anderson looking for stronger starts

Anderson looking for stronger starts

SEATTLE -- Brett Anderson has made four Major League starts in his career, and a strange pattern has developed.

The 21-year-old left-hander has allowed a .364 opponent's batting average and compiled an 11.25 ERA in the first two innings of games, but after those first two frames, the numbers decrease to .207 and 1.76.

Normally, you'd think these statistics would skew in the opposite direction for a guy who, beyond Spring Training, is unknown to American League hitters. The textbook would say he'd breeze through the lineup the first time around but once the opposing team saw his repertoire -- a low-90s fastball, a wicked slider and the occasional curveball and changeup -- they'd get a better feel for him.

Anderson, who takes the hill at home against the Angels on Monday night, said he can't figure it out either.

"I don't know exactly what the deal is," he said. "I don't know if it's taking me a few innings to get into a rhythm or if it's just bad timing or bad luck. It's not like I've gone into the starts not feeling good, because I've thrown well and definitely felt good in the bullpen."

A's manager Bob Geren said he didn't want to put too much stock into the numbers, given the small sample size.

"There really isn't enough to go on," Geren said. "It's his first coiuple starts in the big leagues, and I"m sure there's a little bit of nerves and getting settled in. If at the end of the year it's still that way, then you'd have a problem."

Anderson didn't dispute the fact that his first few times toeing Major League mounds gave him some jitters.

"If you don't have butterflies or nerves when you're out there, you probably shouldn't be playing," he said.

Anderson's last start, in Arlington on Tuesday, was cut short in the sixth inning because he developed a blister on the upper part of his left index finger. Geren said he noticed something was wrong when he saw Anderson shaking the hand as if the finger was stinging and will "watch for that" in the future.

But on Sunday, Anderson said the finger was fine and he'd be ready to improve on those early inning numbers. Anderson got a no-decision in the Texas game after giving up three runs on three hits in five innings, with one Rangers run crossing home plate in the first inning. Anderson struck out five and walked three.

"If I can get past the first inning unscathed, I feel like I will be successful," Anderson said. "But maybe it's a good sign that guys are having problems once I get into a rhythm instead of the other way around

Pitching matchup
OAK: LHP Brett Anderson (0-2, 5.01 ERA)
A 21-year-old rookie, Anderson hasn't yet lived up to the hype that followed him out of Spring Training, during which he secured a spot in Oakland's rotation by leading the team's starters in ERA in his first trip to big league camp. He was solid his last time out, though, holding the host Rangers to three hits over five innings before being removed from the game with a blister on his left index finger. Anderson said he dealt with a blister in the same area last season in the Minors and didn't miss a start, but the A's are playing it safe and giving him an extra day between starts.

LAA: LHP Joe Saunders ( 3-1, 3.41 ERA)
Saunders is one guy who's probably sorry to see the calendar turn from April to May. Lifetime in April, the lefty is 10-1. He'll be the first to point out that's a small sampling over a brief Major League career, but if getting off to good start counts for anything, Saunders' impressive Aprils have become a welcome sight around Anaheim. His last outing, Tuesday at Baltimore, wasn't by any means dominating. Saunders allowed 10 hits and four runs, though only two of the tallies were charged as earned runs. And when the Orioles had runners on base and Saunders had trouble locating his pitches, he simply decided to let Baltimore put the ball in play and let his fielders do the work.

Geren said he was eager to be heading back to Oakland after the schedule had the A's playing only three home games (April 24-26 against Tampa Bay) in their last 18 days and the A's had found themselves on the short end of quite a few one-run outcomes. "There is an advantage to being home in those tie games late," Geren said. "I'll take a 1-1 or a 2-2 game in the eighth inning [at home] any time." ... Geren also made a point to say that while the team has been challenged by its rash of injuries over the last two-plus seasons, the opportunities the injuries have created for young players has paid dividends for the club. "Some of the positives of putting guys on the DL is that you have a full bench," Geren said. "You don't want to look at the DL as a positive ... but we've found some pretty good players as a result of injuries." Geren named relievers Brad Ziegler and Andrew Bailey as two examples, and added for the second straight day that Bailey has impressed him enough to be a legitimate contender for the closer's job moving forward. He also said that the A's have probably benefited in the mental toughness department as a result of all that DL time. "If somebody gets injured, nobody panics," he said. "We know we've been through this before and we know someone can step up and fill the void." ... Jack Cust's home run in the first inning of Sunday's game marked the A's eighth long ball in their last nine games after hitting three in the first 13.

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Up next
• Tuesday: Athletics (Dallas Braden, 3-2, 2.10) vs. Angels (Shane Loux 1-2, 5.24), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: Athletics (Dana Eveland, 1-1, 7.40) vs. Rangers (Scott Feldman, 1-0, 6.75), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Thursday: Athletics (Trevor Cahill, 0-2, 4.50) vs. Rangers (Brandon McCarthy, 3-0, 4.67), 12:35 p.m. PT

Doug Miller is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.