This is the night I’ve been waiting for!
Nomar Garciaparra made his long-awaited return to Fenway Park tonight. But while the ovation he received from the fans was fantastic and well-deserved, that’s not what this is about.
What’s that you say? It was also John Smoltz Fenway debut? This definitely isn’t about that!
No, this is about the Athletics 21-year old pitcher, Brett Anderson, finally doing what we’ve all been hearing he was capable of. Coming over from the Diamondbacks in the huge haul that was the Danny Haren deal, Anderson was widely regarded as the second best prospect of the bunch. Once Carlos Gonzalez showed his ceiling as a lifetime quadruple-A player, Anderson emerged as the top prospect in the A’s system. Working for the A’s triple-A club in Sacramento, and being 45 minutes from the single-A affiliate, has given me plenty of opportunities to check out the A’s young players. Brett Anderson, along with other prized pitcher Trevor Cahill, however, spent all of last season in AA-Midland. That’s in Texas, not really within driving distance. So, that left me following box scores, and reading updates from Baseball America and Athletics Nation.
That was, until Anderson was moved up to AAA in time for the PCL playoffs last year. I would finally get an up close look at the next great Oakland pitcher. I won’t lie, it was sort of a letdown. He had a great outing, don’t get me wrong. If I recall, he threw 2 or 3 scoreless innings, giving up 1 or 2 hits. But nothing really stood out. Not one dominant pitch, no crazy velocity, or filthy strikeouts. I guess he was just a placement pitcher – not flashy, but efficient. Fine by me, I guess.
But this year, since starting the season in Oakland, Anderson had yet to impress (5-7, 5.45 ERA). Is he just another Gio Gonzalez? (I’m not ready to write him off, but I’m close) Anyway, Cahill was the one looking like the future ace of the staff.
UNTIL TODAY. Against the best team in the AL with the best home record in the major leagues at the most famed stadium in baseball, Brett Anderson threw a complete game, 2-hit shutout. It wasn’t just the outcome though, he looked filthy doing it. He struck out nine batters, and he did it with nasty curveballs, sliders, changeups, and oh yeah, a 97 mph fastball. I don’t expect him to duplicate this performance every time out, but he finally showed what he’s capable of – on the game’s biggest stage no less. All of a sudden, Anderson-Cahill-Mazzaro sounds a lot more like it’ll have the same ring to it for years to come that Hudson-Mulder-Zito did.