SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants rookie pitcher Shaun Anderson spent the last week quietly nursing a blister that had shown up on his middle finger, but in the hours before his start Wednesday, he was confident he was ready to go.
Anderson felt good about the game plan formulated by the pitching coaches and catchers, and his stuff was strong early on against the Nationals. He was ready to put a rough July behind him -- and then a second blister caught him by surprise. That one, hidden underneath the first one, popped in the second inning of a game the Giants would go on to lose 4-1.
It left Anderson without his usual command, and with some doubt about his next appearance. Manager Bruce Bochy said the rookie could miss a start as the Giants try to get him back to full health. On Wednesday, Anderson was pulled after just three innings.
"We felt we had to get him out of there before it got worse," Bochy said.
The development was disappointing for Anderson in a number of ways. His day was cut short, along with his chance to get back on track. Anderson has not recorded more than 15 outs in a start since June 28, which was also the last time he allowed fewer than three runs. He had a 7.71 ERA in July and Wednesday's rough outing lifted his season ERA to 5.33
After giving up a run in the first, Anderson was hit for three in the third when former Giant Gerardo Parra went deep to left. It was Parra's first homer at Oracle Park this season, and came on a pitch that was far from the target. Stephen Vogt set up down and in but the fastball was up and out over the plate.
"It leaked over and he got to it," Anderson said.
The right-hander admitted his command has been impacted by the blister, which sits right over the laces as he grips the ball. But he said that's no excuse.
"Today felt great," Anderson said. "The 'pen leading up to it was good, and in the first inning I was fired up."
The Giants already have Conner Menez in the rotation and Andrew Suarez in the bullpen, but they could get by if Anderson misses a start. They're off next Monday and could slide a fifth starter back in on the next road trip.
The news came along with renewed concern about Steven Duggar's shoulder, which is sprained and will require an MRI. The Giants already are without Alex Dickerson and will need to call up another outfielder, likely either Chris Shaw or recently acquired slugger Jaylin Davis.
After a month when everything went right, it's all gone the other way in recent days. The loss dropped the Giants to 1-6 in August and they lost three games in the standings this week to the Nationals, a team they're chasing.
They'd better get right in a hurry. The Phillies, also near the top of the Wild Card race, come to town Thursday for a four-game series.