CLEVELAND -- Cody Anderson encountered the expected rookie nerves when he took the mound on Sunday afternoon for the Indians. The big right-hander was experiencing the Major Leagues for the first time and admittedly had an increased dose of adrenaline running through him.
The fifth pitch of Anderson's big league career registered at 97 mph on the Progressive Field radar gun, a clear indication that the starter was more amped than usual. As the game wore on, and Tampa Bay's Alex Colome did his part in creating a tightly-contested pitchers' duel, Anderson calmed down, settled in and put Cleveland on a path to a 1-0 walk-off win.
With his parents in the stands for his Father's Day debut, the 24-year-old Anderson worked into the eighth inning for the first time in his professional career. The righty logged 7 2/3 shutout innings, scattering six hits, striking out four and issuing only one walk in his 94-pitch effort.
Anderson did not get his first win, but that was not about to wipe the smile from his face.
"I'm just honored to be here and help them win," Anderson said. "It was definitely very special."
Anderson joined Scott Lewis (Sept. 16, 2008), Luis Tiant (July 19, 1964) and Ray Benge (Sept. 26, 1925) as the only Cleveland pitchers since at least 1914 to turn in 7 2/3 shutout innings in a Major League debut. Anderson also became only the 14th pitcher in the big leagues to have at least 7 2/3 shutout innings with four or more strikeouts and no more than one walk in a debut.
In the first inning, Anderson's first career pitch was a 95-mph heater that Tampa Bay's Kevin Kiermaier beat into the ground for a game-opening groundout to shortstop Francisco Lindor. The Rays managed to put at least one baserunner aboard in six of Anderson's innings, but he off-set his four-seamer with a changeup, two seamer and breaking balls to escape each jam.
Anderson, who posted a 1.89 ERA in 13 starts between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus this season, was called up prior to Sunday's game for the start.
"I just sat down with him and I asked him what was working for him in Triple-A and Double-A," Indians catcher Roberto Perez said. "He pretty much told me he was using a lot of changeups down there and he's developing a kind of cutter-slider. But, his main thing is his fastball. So, I think today, he commanded his fastball, and he pretty much followed me."
Out of the gates, Perez had Anderson work nearly exclusively with his fastball before beginning to show Tampa Bay the rest of his arsenal.
"I think 'Berto was wanting me to really work the fastball the first inning or two," Anderson explained. "To be able to find the command, find the release point. Everybody knew there was going to be a lot of adrenaline going on. It worked out."
Given the inconsistent production out of the fifth spot in Cleveland's rotation this season, Anderson's outing was encouraging for the Tribe.
"A small sample -- like a game -- I don't think defines somebody's career," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But, besides the fact that he really pitched well, everything -- from his poise to the way he competed, holding runners when he had to, fielding his position, covering first -- he really [did well].
"I'm sure there's a lot of guys in player development today that are really proud. And, they should be."