OAKLAND -- He's back all right.
A's lefty Brett Anderson, toeing the rubber of a Major League mound for the first time in over a year on Tuesday night, did so with ease in an 86-pitch effort -- after a tease of a one-run first inning.
Anderson threw 21 pitches in his first frame since June 5, 2011, one of which resulted in a wild pitch that plated a Twins run. Yet the rust was gone thereafter, with the 24-year-old southpaw retiring each of the next nine and keeping Minnesota off the board for six more innings in a 4-1 A's victory at The Coliseum.
"I was more nervous for this game I think than my debut, just because of the whole process leading up to it," Anderson said. "Just getting out there and getting on the mound again, throwing a pitch in the big leagues is kind of a relief. I don't think I could have scripted a better performance really, all things considered. The big thing is helping the team win a ball game, and hopefully I can continue to do that."
"He looked fresh. His arm looked alive," A's pitching coach Curt Young said. "When you don't pitch for 13 months in a big league game, the nerves are there, but then he started to look real comfortable with what he's doing with the baseball. Whenever a guy's coming back after being away for so long, you're hoping all good things happen."
Plenty good was seen in Anderson's first win since May 26 of last year, when he later underwent Tommy John surgery that led to 13 months of rehab.
He surely earned it, holding the Twins to just four hits in seven strong innings of work while striking out six and walking none while facing just one over the minimum thanks to a fifth-inning triple play -- the first turned by the A's since 2000 -- that wiped away a pair of base runners.
Anderson induced a sharp grounder to third base -- one of 13 on the night, next to zero fly balls -- from Trevor Plouffe with runners on first and second and watched Josh Donaldson jumpstart the 5-4-3 rarity with second baseman Adam Rosales and first baseman Chris Carter.
It was the eighth triple play in Oakland history and 21st in franchise history for the A's.
"You don't see many of those," manager Bob Melvin said. "We weren't sure if they were going to bunt in that situation so we had JD in maybe a little bit more than usual and they hit it right to him. Really, Rosie made a nice play at second to get it and to get it over to first quickly. The throw was a little high and to the outfield side a little bit and he made a really nice transfer and throw. That's an exciting play."
Donaldson contributed to Anderson's season debut in more ways than one, providing the hurler support in the second by way of a game-tying RBI double off Twins starter Cole De Vries. The A's third baseman, enlisted just last week to help out at third in the injured Brandon Inge's stead, is 11-for-27 with six RBIs since his callup.
Fellow rookie Derek Norris' run-scoring single in the sixth put the A's ahead and knocked De Vries out of the game, before the green and gold broke open the game in the seventh with two runs off righty Anthony Swarzak to extend their lead by three.
Coco Crisp led off the frame with a double and, one out later, scored on a bloop single off the bat of Josh Reddick, who moved to second on Yoenis Cespedes' ensuing base hit and ultimately scored via an RBI double from Carter.
The A's are 4-1 on their current homestand, which concludes with Wednesday's series finale with the Twins. Anderson, meanwhile, figures to see game action again Monday in Cleveland, where he'll look to build upon a promising start to an already shortened season.
"You remember your debut, and this is kind of like my second debut, so it's always going to be special and I'll remember it forever," he said.
"He looked like he's back to the good 'ol Brett Anderson we know, just poised out there with a good pace of game," Rosales said. "It's fun to play behind him."