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A's debut a 'dream come true' for Anderson 

Tampa-area native sharp in first start of 2019, allowing two runs over 5 2/3 frames at Tropicana Field
@Sportsgal25
June 10, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- Whatever Tanner Anderson had envisioned for his first A's start, the past two days were both exactly what he’d hoped for and not nearly ideal. That the 26-year-old was able to toss 5 1/3 scoreless frames (over his 5 2/3) at a Rays team that entered Monday

ST. PETERSBURG -- Whatever Tanner Anderson had envisioned for his first A's start, the past two days were both exactly what he’d hoped for and not nearly ideal.

That the 26-year-old was able to toss 5 1/3 scoreless frames (over his 5 2/3) at a Rays team that entered Monday tied for the American League East lead was impressive all by itself. Factor in a double-dose of red-eye flights and sprinkle atop what had to have been at least a few first-start jitters, and the result was nothing short of remarkable.

Anderson took the loss in the A’s 6-2 defeat to the Rays at Tropicana Field, but there was so much more to his journey than could be conveyed in a stat line.

Box score

“I thought he did great,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “Obviously some pressure here being at [Anderson’s] home. I’m sure he’s got a lot of people here, and he performed past our expectations."

The A’s right-hander stifled one of baseball’s hottest-hitting teams for much of his night, holding Tampa Bay to three hits over his 5 2/3 frames while walking two and fanning five. Prior to Monday, the Rays were averaging 5.58 runs per game over their last 22 tilts. Unfazed by the numbers, Anderson retired Tampa Bay in order in the first, second and fifth innings.

Kevin Kiermaier’s two-run homer in the sixth was the ultimate difference-maker, but by then, the A’s right-hander had already long since left his impression.

Melvin said prior to the game that he wasn’t sure what to expect from Anderson that night, but that he’d “like to see him go out there and give us some innings and keep us in the ballgame.”

Anderson delivered that and then some.

“He pitched well enough to get a longer look; we’ll just see what kind of configuration we need,” Melvin said. “He saved our bullpen, too, because today, if we could get a deep start from somebody, we would really benefit by it.

“Composure-wise, he looked like he’d been pitching and starting all year for us.”

Anderson, a 2011 graduate of Plant High School in Tampa, Fla., held up his end of the bargain while pitching at Tropicana Field for the first time since his prep all-star game. With his hometown just 20 minutes north of the stadium, the crowd was littered with green shirts behind the visitor’s dugout. In the stands were more than 40 of Anderson’s friends and family, including his parents, Lisa and Lee Anderson, several childhood friends and his girlfriend.

“It’s surreal,” Lee Anderson said after Tanner’s second scoreless inning. “He’s doing what he needs to do; plain and simple. Keep the ball down and hit your targets.”

“You almost block it out,” Lisa Anderson said. “Here? At home? Who would’ve ever thought this?”

To say their son hit a few snags en route to his first career start might be a bit of an understatement. By the time he took the hill on Monday, Tanner Anderson had slept sparingly at best during the previous two nights.

“I kind of slept in until 1 today, which isn’t super late if we’re on Vegas time,” Anderson said, of the three-hour time difference. “It’s just part of the game. I guess the Minor Leagues kind of prepares you for that, because it’s a little less kind with the travel.

“Today I felt pretty refreshed because I was able to sleep in decently late.”

First, a post-midnight flight from Triple-A Las Vegas on Sunday to join the A’s in Texas. Typically, the next day’s starter will fly out ahead of the team at the end of a road trip, but since Sunday was a day game, the A’s felt there was no harm in letting Anderson hang around …

... Until an hour-long game delay combined with a three-hour game. To top it off, the A’s were stranded at the ballpark for an additional 3 1/2 hours when wind from a thunderstorm blew the airport’s mobile stairs into the wing of the plane, damaging it.

The team had to wait for a replacement plane to be flown in from Northern California and didn’t arrive at the hotel in Florida until 4 a.m. ET.

“Pretty tough travel, but a lot of us have been through worse at other levels,” shortstop Marcus Semien said.

Anderson, who’d just spent plenty of time waiting for Monday to arrive -- during this weekend and throughout his career -- would be the last to complain.

“My first dream was to play at this level, and that was awesome; that happened last year,” Anderson said. “My second dream was to pitch in Tropicana [Field]. So it was awesome; a dream come true.”

Walking wounded
• Chris Herrmann (right knee surgery) will begin his rehab assignment at Triple-A either Wednesday or Thursday, Melvin said. The A’s catcher has been catching bullpen sessions and getting at-bats in extended spring training. Herrmann cleared his final hurdle, which was baserunning, on Sunday.
• Marco Estrada (lumbar strain) is still playing catch and is up to distances of 90 feet.

Dawn Klemish is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Tampa. Follow her on Twitter @Sportsgal25.