CLEVELAND -- Cody Anderson impressed the Indians with his aggressiveness during Spring Training. The young starter showed up in incredible shape, his fastball grew in velocity and, when it was all said and done, his hard work netted him a spot in Cleveland's rotation.
In a 6-5 loss to the Mets on Friday night, Anderson appeared more tentative on the mound. His pitches did not have the same life as they did during the preseason and New York's lineup -- one which entered the evening with only two home runs on the season -- took full advantage with a powerful display that included three blasts off the right-hander.
The Indians want to see the Anderson that showed up to Arizona this spring.
"He's at his best when he's being really aggressive," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He'll be fine. It was just hard for him to get the feel, trying to drive it downhill."
Anderson was exercising good damage control for the first four innings, in which he held the Mets to only a two-out solo homer by Michael Conforto, but the big righty's struggles caught up with him in the fifth. New York added four more runs (three via homers) in the inning off Anderson, who exited after allowing three consecutive hits with two outs.
The fifth began with Alejandro De Aza sending a 2-1 fastball to deep left field for a leadoff home run. Later with two outs, Conforto defied the defensive shift with a nubber that rolled to the left of the mound and into no-man's land for an unlikely infield single. Yoenis Cespedes followed by watching a pair of fastballs before crushing a 1-1 curveball out to center field for a two-run home run.
That pitch still ate at Anderson after the loss.
"I never want to dwell on pitches that I choose to throw," said Anderson, who struck out five, walked one and was charged with five runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. "But in that situation, I got beat with my fourth-best pitch. I left it up and he hit it out."
On the night, Anderson averaged 93.9 mph with his four-seam fastball, which came in at 93.7 mph during his previous outing in 32-degree Chicago weather on Saturday. During Spring Training, when Anderson won the No. 4 spot in the rotation, he sat around 94-96 mph with his fastball and was touching 97-98 mph at times.
Francona believes the issues with commanding in the lower half of the strike zone stemmed in part from Anderson taking a little something off his pitches.
"It just seemed like he felt like he was having trouble driving the ball down in the zone," Francona said. "And so maybe [he was] letting off a tick or two just to kind of try to get it down there, as opposed to trusting it and really coming after it. I think he maybe let that last start in the Chicago, when it was so cold, maybe get in the way a little bit."
Anderson agreed that he was not trusting his stuff as much as he has in the past.
"It's just one of those things where you've got to throw every pitch with conviction down in the zone," Anderson said. "I just wasn't getting the ball there. Unfortunately for the team, they put up five runs and I let them down."