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Joe Panik’s walk-off single lifts Giants to comeback before smallest home crowd of 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants scored two runs in their first 17 innings of their series against the Atlanta Braves.
They needed three in the ninth to defeat Atlanta on Tuesday, and thanks to Joe Panik, they finished the job.
Trailing 3-1 entering the final inning, the Giants mounted a stunning three-run rally capped off by a two-run single by the second baseman who has caught fire in recent weeks.
Brandon Crawford, Kevin Pillar and Pablo Sandoval all delivered key ninth-inning hits before Panik evened the series with a shot through the right side of the infield off Braves closer Luke Jackson.
The offense stalled for much of Tuesday’s game, leaving the spotlight on rookie starter Shaun Anderson for most of the evening.
Ten of the first 21 players taken in the first round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft were pitchers, but none of those players have reached the major leagues yet. However, the right-hander selected with the No. 88 overall pick made his second career start for the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.
Anderson wasn’t dominant, but the 24-year-old showed off intriguing potential in a five-plus inning stint in his club’s 4-3 win over an Atlanta Braves lineup loaded filled with tough hitters.
Anderson is one of a limited number of prospects in the Giants’ system creating a buzz, but his Tuesday start wasn’t enough to pack the stadium at China Basin. The rookie pitched in front of a paid crowd of 28,030, the smallest announced attendance at Oracle Park this season.
The Giants didn’t have a first round pick in the 2016 draft, but they acquired a solid prospect in Anderson, a third round selection, when they sent utility player Eduardo Núñez to the Boston Red Sox in July, 2017.
The Red Sox were the first side to benefit from the deal as they re-signed Núñez prior to the 2018 season and watched him deliver a clutch, three-run home run in Game 1 of last year’s World Series, but the Giants have a chance to pull even as they’ve begun the process of determining whether Anderson can be a long-term fit in the club’s rotation.
If he continues to build off his first two starts, Anderson should have plenty of opportunities in a 2019 season where auditions for future roles with the Giants have been plentiful.
After tossing five innings and allowing two hits and two earned runs in his debut last Wednesday against Toronto, Anderson returned to the mound against a deeper Atlanta lineup and surrendered a pair of runs against the Braves.
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The Braves scored first on a two-out double from right fielder Nick Markakis in the opening frame, but Anderson settled in and retired nine batters in a row between the end of the second and the middle of the fifth inning. With Anderson on a roll, Giants manager Bruce Bochy opted to leave the young starter in to open the sixth instead of turning to his bullpen early.
The decision ultimately cost the Giants a run as Anderson allowed back-to-back singles before Bochy called on right-hander Reyes Moronta to try and escape the jam. A one-out sacrifice fly from catcher Brian McCann broke a 1-1 tie and gave Anderson’s final line an additional blemish.
Given the state of the Giants’ farm system and the relative lack of activity of a losing club at the past two trade deadlines, the contributions the team has already received from Anderson is an encouraging sign.
After signing free agent Jeff Samardzija, the Giants forfeited their first round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft. They also traded their second round pick, outfielder Bryan Reynolds, to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a deal that brought Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco, so Anderson represents the organization’s greatest hope that it can turn a 2016 draft choice into a key contributor.
It’s far too soon to know whether Anderson has the ability to stick in the rotation for years to come, but many in the organization are convinced the ultra-competitive demeanor he displayed against Atlanta on Tuesday will give him a chance to do so.
Attendance slips
Tuesday’s attendance marked the sixth game this year in which the Giants failed to draw 30,000 fans, making the 2019 season just the second in the two-decade history of Oracle Park in which the club has had more than five crowds consisting of fewer than 30,000 fans.
The smallest crowd in Oracle Park history was 23,934 on May 11, 2009 when the Giants hosted the Washington Nationals. The Giants will not set a new low this year because they have a season-ticket base of about 26,000, but they will likely set a new record for most games with an attendance of fewer than 30,000 fans.
The previous record was established in 2009 when the Giants had 12 home games in which they sold fewer than 30,000 tickets.

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