ANAHEIM, Calif. — Tim Anderson didn’t think it was gone.
He looked at the way Cameron Maybin waited for his fly ball in the 11th inning on Tuesday night. He’d just seen two potential home run balls off the bats of Albert Pujols and Martin Maldonado knocked down by marine layer. He knew there was no possible way this one would get out.
But unlike the two previous drives, Anderson’s kept going until it barely soared over the left-field fence for a solo home run. And just like that, Anderson had homered in his first game back in the lineup after he attended the funeral of his best friend, Branden Moss, who was shot and killed on May 7. When he reached the bench a little later, Anderson was embraced by third baseman Todd Frazier. Both had a sense Moss played a role in the moment.
“I told him when we were sitting there, I said ‘Your boy was there with you,’ ” Frazier said. “I told him I believe in that stuff thoroughly and he pushed that ball out for you. Take that in, relax and enjoy this moment. He kept nodding his head. He knew it. I was happy for him.”
Anderson said it was mandatory for him to return to Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Friday morning to attend Moss’s funeral. The two shared a strong bond and Anderson owed it to Moss to be there for his family. Anderson rejoined the White Sox on Monday, but didn’t return to the lineup until Tuesday night.
Prior to the game, Anderson spoke to Moss’s mother, Dorothy. She joked that Anderson needed to hit a homer for Moss. With the scored tied at 5, Anderson jumped on a first-pitch curveball from Yusmeiro Petit and the ball continued to carry over Maybin’s head.
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Until the Angels rallied on the strength of a pair of bloopers, Anderson was in line to be the hero.
“It was a great feeling,” Anderson said. “I talked to my mom (Wednesday) and she was like, ‘You’ve got Brendan’s spirit with you. It’s going to make you a better player’ and I believe that. He had some part in … what happened last night because I feel like (Maybin) was camped under that ball and it just kept going. It was a great moment. That’s definitely something that I know he’s smiling down on me, that he would be happy.”
Anderson heard back from Moss’s mother again on Wednesday. She was in disbelief.
“She called me today and she was super excited about it,” Anderson said.