Plenty of pitchers would put their previous start, good or bad, behind them the next time they step on the mound, but Ian Anderson is cut from a different cloth.
Six days after tying his career high with 11 strikeouts, the Braves' fourth-ranked prospect extended his scoreless streak to 11 innings, giving up two hits over five frames and fanning seven in Class A Advanced Florida's 2-1 win over Palm Beach on Sunday at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. He also dropped his ERA to a season-low 2.96.
Gameday box score
After finishing his first full professional season with a 3.14 ERA for Class A Rome in 2017, Anderson's mark had hovered around 3.50 this season until the turn of the calendar. Coming off his best start of the year, he said he took the ball against the Cardinals and tried to slide back into the same mindset he had earlier this week.
"I was definitely trying to feed off that a bit. It was funny, in the same stadium [in Jupiter] but just a different team," he said. "I always want to try and feed off a hot streak when I'm on one because you don't know if you 're going to have another one throughout the course of the season. You want to stay on that streak and groove it as long as you can."
MLB.com's No. 43 overall prospect picked up where he left off, fanning his first two batters and setting down four in a row to begin the game. After Shane Billings reached in the second on an error by third baseman Kurt Hoekstra, Anderson struck out Stefan Trosclair and got Danny Hudzina to pop up to end the frame.
The upstate New York native worked around singles in the third and fourth and picked up an assist from his teammates to cap the fourth and keep the scoreless streak alive. J.B. Woodman grounded a single to right and stole second. With two outs, Trosclair reached on an error by Ray-Patrick Didder, but the shortstop threw Woodman out at the plate.
Anderson retired his final three batters, whiffing Taylor Bryant and Juan Yepez. He ended up throwing 96 pitches and said he would have liked to go deeper after lasting six innings in each of his previous three starts.
"It was tough out there. The stat line was good, but they were making me throw a lot of pitches and they were fighting off a lot," he said. "I had to grind through the middle few innings, but that's why you pitch, to show you can grind through those and give your team a good chance.
"It's been huge for my confindence [to make longer starts] this year. Every time you take the ball, you want to go deep into games. That's the job of a starter and it's what I've been doing my whole life, so it's been fun facing lineups two or three times. It's a challenge, but that's why you pitch, to be challenged."
Anderson said the constant through his hot streak has been the fastball, which he's shored up with a heavier workload this season. His increased precision with the heater has allowed him to go deeper and increase his strikeout totals recently.
"I'm always working on my off-speed stuff, throwing it a lot during catch and in games. That stuff may not be my best, but I'm trying to get a feel back for it," he said. "But the fastball combination today, just my command and the velocity and the change in my spots, moving up and down, it was huge. I feel like I've learned a lot more about that this year, more about how to pitch rather than just being a thrower up there."
With the game tied 1-1 in the ninth, Alan Crowley lined an RBI single to center. It was Crowley's first hit since a promotion from Class A Rome on Monday. It also made a winner of Brandon S. White (1-0), who struck out two over 1 2/3 perfect innings in his Florida State League debut. Connor Johnstone fanned two in a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save.