Giants pitcher threw near Mike Trout’s head twice. Managers don’t think it was on purpose
A 25-year-old’s spotty command in the ninth inning of the Angels’ 8-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants sparked controversy Tuesday afternoon.
Giants reliever Shaun Anderson threw two of his first six pitches near the head of Angels star Mike Trout. The fastballs each clocked in at 95 mph. After the second one nearly took off Trout’s helmet, Trout made a gesture toward Anderson as though asking, “What gives?” and turned to plate umpire John Libka for backup.
Players in the Angels dugout expressed discontent. A prominent major leaguer also voiced his displeasure on the internet.
“Stop throwing at people’s heads,” Cincinnati Reds pitcher and UCLA product Trevor Bauer wrote on Twitter. “There’s no place in baseball for that.”
As Trout drew a walk and eventually scored the Angels’ final run on a groundout by Shohei Ohtani, fans following the game on Twitter questioned whether Anderson was exacting revenge on the Angels. Reliever Jacob Barnes had hit Giants third baseman Evan Longoria in the back with a 95-mph fastball in the fifth inning.
Angels manager Joe Maddon didn’t think Anderson meant Trout harm.
“That’s just a young man that’s not ready to be here. That’s all that is,” Maddon said. “There’s nothing malicious about it. I’ve been around it before. … It could even been that he was intimidated by Mike being in the batter’s box. That’s not an excuse for him. I’m telling you that’s what I saw.”
There might be something to that. Anderson issued 38 walks, struck out 70 of 427 batters faced and gave up 13 homers in 96 innings for the Giants last season. Anderson has improved his strikeout rate this season, striking out 10 of 40 batters, but not his walk rate. He has walked eight in 9⅓ innings.
Before his assignment Tuesday, Anderson had only thrown 36 pitches since Aug. 9. He last appeared in a game Aug. 12.
His game-winning home run in Monday’s 7-6 victory over the San Francisco Giants cements his All-Star status since becoming a starter.
“I’m just going to be very direct: Shaun hasn’t been on the mound in five days,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “He got a little jumpy. We don’t throw at people. That’s not who we are.”
Anderson surrendered a hard-hit single to Anthony Rendon and threw a wild pitch before inducing Ohtani’s RBI groundout, Brian Goodwin’s weak popup and Jo Adell’s whiff on a 1-and-2 slider to end the game.
“This kid has had command issues like a lot of young pitchers,” Maddon said. “They don’t know where their fastball is going. You notice that he started to command the slider. He needed to just throw more sliders and then he would be able to find that plate. That’s all that was.”
Neither Trout nor Anderson was made available for comment by videoconference.
Three Angels takeaways
1. Angels starter Dylan Bundy struggled to find the plate. He gave up four walks and two homers as the Giants built a 4-1 lead. Bundy induced five swings-and-misses in four innings. He drew a combined 33 swings-and-misses in his previous two starts, during which he allowed one run in 16 innings.
2. Right-hander Jaime Barria threw four scoreless innings in relief before surrendering consecutive two-out doubles to Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria and Pablo Sandoval in the ninth. Barria took the roster spot of utility player Taylor Ward before the game.
3. After a week of on-field workouts, shortstop Andrelton Simmons remains on the injured list. He had been experiencing soreness in his sprained left ankle when moving to one side.
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