Anderson leads streaking A's to second straight sweep

Anderson leads streaking A's to second straight sweep
September 3, 2012, 12:58 am
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OAKLAND When Brett Anderson underwent Tommy John surgeryon July 14, 2011, he knew hed have a long road back to the big leagues.Its doubtful he knew how successful hed be upon returning to the top level ofcompetition in the baseball world.You always have to be confident in your abilities, Anderson said afterimproving to 3-0 in three 2012 starts in the As 6-2 win over the Red Sox. Headded a qualifier that he didnt know if he expected this level of success,though. Not only is Anderson enjoying big-league success again, hes also doing so inthe thick of a playoff race. While most major leaguers are glass-half-fulltypes when it comes to postseason chances, its hard to believe Anderson wasexpecting to pitch in important September games this season.Its been awesome, Anderson said of returning to acontending team. Youre coming out here throwing meaningful innings,meaningful games. Whoever its against, its a meaningful game because we needto win as many as possible.As manager Bob Melvin said its still too early for hisplayers to be looking at the standings, but that doesnt mean he cantappreciate what Anderson is doing under pressure.To give us three games with that type of performance and the magnitude of thegames and coming in later on in the season not just pitching games andgetting ready for next year pitching key games and doing well, its allreally impressive, Melvin said.Forgive the As skipper for his run-on sentence; hes that excited about Andersonsreturn to form. After youve been out that long, theres some things that creep into your mindgoing through the rehab, Melvin said. Anderson agrees.Theres always some days when you say Am I going to get back?, Anderson admitted.This all makes it worthwhile.Anderson has obviously moved past any mental hurdles and can now focus onregaining the control and velocity that made him one of baseballs mostpromising young pitchers in 2010. Melvin noticed that Andersons velocity wasdown a little, as did the southpaw himself.My velocity is still not quite where it was in 2009,Anderson said. But I feel good; my body feels good. Andersons body got a break from pitching early in Sundays series finale, asthe As plated runs in each of the first four innings, giving their starterextended rest in the dugout. Coco Crisp led off the game with a walk, SethSmith followed with a home run for a 2-0 lead and the As never looked back.The early lead, and subsequent insurance, allowed Anderson to pitch to contactand limit the pressure on his surgically repaired elbow.I can pound the zone and try and get early contact and keepthe pitch count down, Anderson said of what the run support allows him to do. Throughthe first five, I mixed and matched a little bit of everything. Got some groundballs, got some strikeouts. Anderson got nine ground outs and four strikeouts, to be exact, and was incruise control until the sixth inning. Thats when the Red Sox loaded the basesand scored their first run. It couldve been worse for Anderson if not forYoenis Cespedes. The Cuban slugger was held hitless, but made his presence felton defense. He threw a perfect strike to catcher Derek Norris at home platefrom deep left to cut down Scott Podsednik trying to score from second on CodyRoss RBI single.I got a little shaky there in the sixth, but Cespy made a tremendous throw,Anderson said.Melvin said a throw like that should turn heads around the league.Nothing surprises us out of him, Melvin said of his rookie outfielder. Hehas a cannon. The more he does that, teams are going to stop running on him.Josh Reddick, a fellow cannon-for-an-appendage outfielder, believes that the Asare inspiring each other during this season-high nine-game win streak.Hitting is contagious; defense is contagious, Reddick explained. If the bug keeps spreading and leads to a win Monday over Anaheim, the As will have their longest win streak since emerging victoriousin 20 straight games back in 2002. In fact, the 10th anniversary ofthat historic 20th win is Wednesday. But the As arent focused onstreaks or standings; Melvin has instilled a tunnel-vision mentality with hisplayers.We still have a month left and if were worried about thenext homestand or the next road trip, those are just distractions we dontneed, Melvin said. The message here is to prepare for the day; put all ourenergy and all our focus into that. And well add wins up a little bitlater.Melvin did admit that its often impossible to avoid looking at the standings,which inevitably will lead to playoff dreams. But for both Melvin and hisplayers, the old clich of one day at a time seems to be the mantra.You cant help but know where you are, but I think we tryto isolate on the day and I think that should be the case all the waythroughout the season, Melvin said. At the end of the day, well prepare forthe next pitcher and the next day and we need to continue to do that.