As someone who grew up a Boston Red Sox fan, Ian Anderson couldn’t imagine his first two meetings with the New York Yankees going much better.
Anderson, a 2016 Shenendehowa High School graduate, made his memorable MLB debut with the Atlanta Braves last August allowing a run on one hit over six innings in a win against the Yankees in Atlanta. Wednesday, Anderson made his first appearance at Yankee Stadium and again ended up with the victory, shutting out New York over 6 2/3 innings as the Braves notched a 4-1 win.
“Two wins,” Anderson said during a post-game teleconference with reporters. “That’s all you can ask for. It’s awesome.”
To make it even sweeter, the Rexford native had more than a dozen family members and close acquaintances in the crowd Wednesday night — including his 83-year-old grandmother, Beverly Anderson of Rotterdam, who saw her grandson pitch in-person for the first time in his professional career.
“[The last time she saw me pitch was] probably in high school,” Ian Anderson said. “It’s probably been that long. My dad set her up with the MILB login, so she would watch all those [minor league] games, and last year he set her up with MLB. She started watching games even when I wasn’t pitching. She enjoys it.
“She was a little cold tonight, but she definitely enjoyed it.”
Most of Ian Anderson’s 14-ticket allotment for Wednesday’s game was taken up by family, including his parents, Bob and Karen Anderson. Also in attendance were his former high school head coach and pitching coach at Shenendehowa, Greg Christodulu and Keith Lansley.
Ian Anderson said he exchanged texts with his father Wednesday night and waved up to the family section in the crowd following post game high-fives.
Just as in his debut last summer, Anderson carved his way through the Yankees lineup. He allowed four hits — all singles — struck out four and walked four en route to picking up his first win of the season.
“The [Yankees] lineup looked a little bit different this time, and the ballpark was different, obviously,” Anderson said, “but, I felt right at home out there. I felt comfortable in the cold.”
Anderson largely cruised through his first six innings on just 78 pitches, but ran into trouble in the seventh. Nursing a 3-0 lead, he allowed a one-out single to Mike Ford, then, after striking out Aaron Hicks, issued back-to-back walks to Gary Sanchez and Clint Frazier.
That put an end to Anderson’s night after 97 pitches as Braves manager Brian Snitker brought A.J. Minter in from the bullpen and the lefty retired DJ LeMahieu on a sharp grounder to third to escape the threat and keep the runs column spotless in Anderson’s pitching line.
“That was huge,” Anderson said. “I kind of lost command a little there, started to go with a little more of the off-speed. But, A.J. coming in and getting that out was, I would say, the key to the game.”
Snitker called Anderson’s performance the best of the season for the 22-year-old righthander. Through his first three starts, Anderson hadn’t factored in a decision and had a 4.70 earned run average in 15 1-3 innings after going 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA in six regular-season starts last year, then going 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA in four postseason appearances.
“That’s the best he’s been all year,” Snitker said. “Spring training, everything. Just as far as the three-pitch mix, command of his fastball. The total package was the best it’s been this year.
“He’s got a way of slowing the game down,” Snitker added. “He’s got some great traits for a young pitcher.”
For Anderson, Wednesday felt like a clear step forward.
“I definitely feel like I was trending in the right direction this whole time,” he said. “It was nice to be able to go out there and throw up some zeroes, kind of get into the feel of the game. I thought we played great defensively and did enough offensively. It’s always nice to be able to get a win like that, and to pitch like that.”