Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson wears his emotions on his sleeve. When things are going well, teammate Jesús Aguilar can crack Anderson's serious demeanor and bring about a smile. When things aren't going as well, the frustration is evident with his body language.
Through the early stages of the season, it has been more of the latter. Perhaps a breakthrough is coming, as Anderson drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning to back another quality start from Trevor Rogers in a 5-1 victory over the D-backs on Thursday night at Chase Field. Miami split the four-game series by winning the last two, and it now heads to Los Angeles for a weekend set against the Dodgers.
"I thought that was a big hit, it was obviously a big hit for us, gives us the lead back," manager Don Mattingly said. "Thought his work was good today, his BP was good, thought his at-bats were really pretty good today. We're going to get him going. We talked about him and [Garrett Cooper] -- and Coop walks again tonight in a pinch-hitting spot. Kind of got that [three-run seventh] started. I thought that it was huge from Andy, and I thought his at-bats were good tonight."
Anderson, who had been hitless in his previous 10 at-bats, gave the Marlins a 2-1 lead on a two-out RBI single. He sent Merrill Kelly's 92.2 mph four-seam fastball on the outside corner to right field, marking Anderson’s first RBI since May 5 -- which was his second game back after missing 11 with a left oblique strain.
During this stretch, Anderson's only extra-base hit has been a three-run homer in his first at-bat off the injured list. He entered Thursday having struck out multiple times in four of his previous five games. Mattingly sat him twice in the past six games, including on Wednesday, but he pinch-hit in the third inning and remained in the game when Isan Díaz felt unwell and exited.
Prior to the injury, Anderson ran into some bad luck. His BABIP for the season is .267 (his average is .204). His 38.7 percent hard-hit rate is just below his mark from last season (39.3 percent). Miami’s inconsistent offense could use a return to form from his middle-of-the-order bat.
"Andy and I have been been together for a long time," said shortstop Miguel Rojas, who has been teammates with Anderson since 2017. "I know Andy, and I know the way that he feels right now. Sometimes, you've got to give your teammates space to figure things out. [It's] still early. Remember, he came from the IL, and he didn't get any at-bats before coming back to play. That's something that you guys have got to put in perspective, and everybody in general -- fans, the organization, everybody.
"He's trying his best to be in this team, and we know Andy can contribute to this team, more than just offensively, you know. We saw it today. He made a great diving play. He's really, really good at third base, and he's got to continue to find a way to come out of those slumps. Everybody's going to go through tough patches in the season, but you've got to find a way to stay positive and to come out of those as soon as possible. Seeing Andy hitting the ball hard today and getting a run and feeling part of the offense is great, and it feels good as a teammate, and I know for him, it was good, too. Hopefully, he'll carry that into L.A., and he'll have a good series over there."
Anderson's knock put Rogers, who allowed one run and struck out seven across six innings, in line for the win. Following a leadoff single in the sixth, he fanned the final three batters he faced.
The reigning National League Rookie of the Month had around 25 friends and family members in attendance. His parents, Colleen and Mike, wore shirts that read "Take a seat" on the front and "Trevor Rogers' Neighborhood" on the back. They made the eight-hour drive to Phoenix from Carlsbad, N.M. Cousin Cody Ross, who played for the Marlins from 2006-10, was also in the stands.
"I always tell myself when they give me the lead, I always tell myself going out there like, 'OK, they did their job, I need to go out and do mine,'" Rogers said. "Gave up that leadoff hit, kind of put a little fire under me and kind of pissed me off, and I'm not going to let them tie this ballgame right here. Kind of a little added aggression, little more intensity and went after them."