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SAN FRANCISCO — Through nearly three seasons in the minor leagues, Shaun Anderson tallied a career batting average of .114.
His current Major League average: 1.000.
The Giants’ top pitching prospect performed admirably on the mound in his big league debut Wednesday, but it was his bat — and even more so his former teammate’s bat — that made the bulk of the noise, as the Giants rallied and held on to defeat Toronto, 4-3, for a series split at Oracle Park.
Anderson collected two hits in his first two career at-bats using his Triple-A teammate Zach Green’s bat. An admitted “bat-borrower,” Anderson grinned while explaining how he prefers to use other players’ lumber.
“This year I had Green’s bat and I felt good swinging it the other day,” he explained. “I said, ‘Hey, I’m taking this up with me.’ ”
Green, a corner infielder and newcomer to the Giants organization after electing free agency in the offseason, had just one condition.
“He said, ‘Only if you get some hits with it,’ ” Anderson laughed.
It didn’t take long for Anderson to cash in. Facing off against Edwin Jackson — who made baseball history when he started Wednesday’s game by officially pitching for a Major League-high 14 teams — Anderson roped a 1-2 offering, measured with an exit velocity of 109 miles per hour, off the bricks of Triples Alley.
He followed up with a ground ball that shot through the left side of the infield for a single in the third, becoming the first Giants pitcher in the modern era (1900 and after) and the first since Steven Matz in 2010, to record two or more hits in his debut.
“I didn’t know he could swing the bat quite like that,” manager Bruce Bochy quipped after the game. “That’s a pretty nice debut, isn’t it?”
Anderson turned in a solid performance on the mound, notching five innings, and allowing three runs (two earned), two hits and three walks while striking out five.
An RBI-double from Freddy Galvis marred Anderson’s first inning after he had issued a leadoff single to Brandon Drury. Anderson promptly walked Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but punched out Rowdy Tellez for his first career strikeout.
After inducing a fly out from Randal Grichuk, Anderson nearly escaped unscathed. But Galvis had other plans, roping a double into the gap to score Drury and put Toronto up early, 1-0, and extending the rotation’s first-inning woes for another game. San Francisco pitchers have allowed a first-inning run in 10 of their last 11 games.
However, Anderson settled down solidly after the first while pitching around three errors. He sandwiched a run-scoring wild pitch in the third between two 1-2-3 innings, before two throwing errors in the fifth allowed Drury to pick up three extra bases.
Drury originally reached on Evan Longoria’s overthrow, and an errant pickoff from Anderson allowed Drury to advance to third. Guerrero’s RBI groundout the next at-bat tagged Anderson for his third run. He finished with 96 pitches, 64 for strikes.
“It’s something I need to limit,” Anderson said, “Limiting those mistakes would have helped me win.”
“He had to pitch in traffic, we didn’t play our best defense and they got a couple of cheap runs, but overall I thought he did a nice job,” Bochy added, noting that Anderson will make at least one more start, although he is not sure the exact date.
Anderson departed in the midst of a 3-3 tie and was ultimately saddled with the no-decision. Hot-hitting Pablo Sandoval, who started at first in place of Brandon Belt as he rests from right knee inflammation, tied the game in the bottom of the first with his 10th double of the year. In the second inning, the big hit belonged to Aramis Garcia, who took Jackson deep for a two-run homer, his first big fly of the season.
Garcia, who caught the bulk of Anderson’s starts in Sacramento, also provided a sense of familiarity.
“It was a great thing from a comfort standpoint,” Anderson said. “I don’t think I shook him a whole lot just because I trust him and he trusts me. We were on the same page most of the time.”
Brandon Crawford would go home the hero though, via his go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the sixth. Crawford hasn’t had the most ideal start to the year — the two-time All Star entered Wednesday’s game batting just .207 — but the swing he put on Ryan Tepera’s 1-0 sinker was reminiscent of years past.
His second homer of the year put the Giants up 4-3, and thanks to four scoreless innings from the bullpen, the Giants were able to hold on. The quartet of Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson and Will Smith held Toronto hitters to just three hits and fanned six.
Melancon finagled his way out of two-on, one-out jam in the sixth, with help from a heads-up double play at the hands of Sandoval, to earn the win. With runners at the corners, Billy McKinney shot a ground ball to Sandoval, who stepped on the bag at first before firing a perfect strike to Garcia at the plate. Garcia tagged out Grichuk, who dashed for home on contact, to end the frame.
Smith, making his 17th appearance, struck out the side to record his 11th save, the fourth-most in the National League.
“Keep it simple, stupid,” Smith retorted when asked about his success so far this season. “Really, I just try to get strike one and try to get the first guy out. I don’t try to overthink things. I just read swings and trust my catcher.”