The walk from the mound to the dugout can be a lonely one, long enough for a pitcher to ponder the pitifulness of his outing, short enough to prevent the discovery of answers.
But a guest followed Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson as he shuffled off the field in Saturday’s 11-1 loss to the Reds, the sort of companion Anderson has seen too frequently in a career marred by injuries. He left the diamond during the fourth inning with trainer Neil Rampe by his side.
The second outing of Anderson’s season lacked the gloom of his one-inning debut. But it can hardly be considered encouraging. Anderson surrendered six runs, recorded only nine outs and exited because of a blister on his left index finger. Rampe inspected Anderson’s hand after Anderson fired a pitch off the backstop for the second time during the game.
Anderson (0-2, 24.75 earned-run average) spent four months rehabilitating from back surgery in March. His first two starts this season classify as one extended faceplant. His arsenal has not fooled his opponents. His body has not handled the strain of competition.
“I want to be a guy that’s counted to go out there and provide innings and give us quality starts to give us a chance,” Anderson said. “Obviously, these first two starts haven’t really worked out that way.”
The blister sprouted during a rehabilitation outing on Aug. 8. Anderson felt it heat up during the third inning. When his command disappeared in the fourth, the training staff intervened.
“Come the third inning tonight, I think it definitely played a factor, as far as the feel for the breaking ball,” Manager Dave Roberts said. “But the first and second inning, I still felt that he was fine.”
On Saturday afternoon, hours before the game, Roberts revealed his pitching rotation all the way until next Thursday — a relative lifetime for this shape-shifting group. Anderson was slated to start Thursday against San Francisco. Because of the combination of his injury and his apparent ineffectiveness, that schedule may soon change.
One blister already fouled up the team’s plans. Dealing with a nettlesome wound on his left hand, Rich Hill has yet to pitch for the Dodgers since being acquired from Oakland on Aug. 1. The team hopes that streak of inactivity ends Wednesday, when Hill is slated to face the Giants. To increase the torment of Saturday, the game was delayed for 79 minutes midway through the seventh inning due to rain. The Dodgers (67-55) trailed by eight runs at the time. The players stewed inside the clubhouse until the storm passed, then shuffled toward an official defeat. The team has now lost three in a row, and trails San Francisco in the National League West by a half game.
“There really wasn’t much of a game tonight,” Roberts said.
The Reds produced four runs on Anderson’s first eight pitches. He gave up a leadoff single to outfielder Billy Hamilton, Two batters later, Anderson tumbled to the ground on an infield single, though this time he emerged unscathed. He popped up the canvas to hang a slider to outfielder Adam Duvall. Duvall launched a three-run homer.
“The first inning wasn’t ideal,” Anderson said. “I would like to face a hitter to lead off the game that doesn’t hit a rocket the first pitch of the game.”
Anderson did not combust in the second, but he did allow another run. He gave up a leadoff single to Brandon Finnegan, the opposing pitcher. Growing up in Texas, Finnegan was a well-regarded outfielder in high school, but he still pitches for a living. The double was the sixth hit of his career. He soon scored on a single by Jose Peraza.
“I’ve done a pretty terrible job,” Anderson said. “But I know I’m a good pitcher. I know I can get people out.”
Follow Andy McCullough on Twitter @McCulloughTimes