Anderson delivers 'huge' homer in comeback

August 15th, 2021

MIAMI -- Asked what word he would use to describe his 2021 season, Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson settled on “challenge.”

Anderson, who was coming off his first year of arbitration eligibility and a nomination as a Gold Glove Award finalist, has missed substantial time in two of the past three seasons due to injuries. In 2021, he has landed on the IL twice -- in the first month with a left oblique strain, then a 60-day stint with a left shoulder subluxation.

But with two very different swings of the bat, Anderson drove in a season-high four runs in Saturday night’s 5-4 comeback victory over the Cubs at loanDepot park. Miami has won three in a row.

“I think it's easy to fall into the trap of realizing that you missed 60-70 games, that you try to make up for lost time, and you try to do a little bit too much at the plate, and I think I've been pretty guilty of that,” Anderson said. “The way to combat that is really to go in each and every day and try to trust yourself, and go up there and try to find a barrel each and every at-bat. And that's what [hitting coach Eric Duncan] has been talking about, [and manager Don Mattingly] has been talking about. Take it one at-bat at a time, one pitch at a time. You're not going to get 15, 20, 25 homers here in one day. You're just going to go day by day, pitch by pitch, and that's what I'm trying to do right now.”

Anderson’s three-run tater on a Zach Davies changeup gave the Marlins a 3-1 advantage after Sergio Alcántara's throwing error extended the sixth inning with two outs. But Frank Schwindel hit a bases-clearing two-out double off Dylan Floro, who had entered in relief of Richard Bleier in the eighth, to hand Chicago a 4-3 lead.

With runners at the corners in the bottom half of the frame, Anderson sent a slow grounder to Alcántara, who committed his third error of the game. It allowed the tying run to score, and went down as an RBI fielder’s choice for Anderson. Pinch-hitter Magneuris Sierra followed with a go-ahead RBI single.

Saturday’s game marked just the second time in club history the Marlins have scored at least five unearned runs in a game -- accounting for their total number of runs -- and won. The only other occurrence was a 5-2 win on May 23, 2019, at Detroit.

The 28-year-old Anderson, considered a potential extension candidate entering the season, was at the forefront of this victory. Aside from his game-high four RBIs, he made a Gold Glove-caliber play in the ninth, firing a 92.5 mph throw to first to retire David Bote for the second out.

“That's big for him,” Mattingly said. “He's had that type of season where he started off slow and when he really started getting going is when he hurts his shoulder. Then you're two months down and having to rehab basically, and then trying to come back. He swung the bat OK for a while there, he had a little streak on the road. It was good for him, obviously, that home run was huge. … And then we get the great play in the ninth. I don't know if anybody else makes that play. Just the clock he has right there, knowing he has to get rid of it. And then has that howitzer on his arm there, to be able to put that much on it to get that guy.”

Here’s a deeper dive into Anderson’s numbers this season:

• .200/.262/.300 with a .562 OPS through first 16 games of 2021
• Hits in his first six games back from his first IL stint, including going deep in his return
• .458/.567/.708 with a 1.275 OPS in eight games before his second IL stint
• .224/.321/.245 with a .566 OPS during a 13-game homerless drought

No one was more pumped for Anderson’s blast than rookie right-hander Zach Thompson. The right-hander was economical with his pitches, matching a career high with six innings and permitting one run on four hits.

“100 out of 10,” Thompson said of his excitement following Anderson’s homer. “I don't know what I did. I think I jumped up and down a few times. I threw my water bottle, and that doesn't really happen very often. Just felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I was talking to [Jazz Chisholm Jr.] about it, too. I said, 'He's going to hit one, so here it goes.’ It was really exciting.”