Sunday, April 20, 2014
Dean Anna took a long road to the Major Leagues. After six years of minor league ball, spent in the San Diego Padres organization, Anna signed with the Yankees this past Winter as a free agent. He came to Spring Training knowing the Yankees already had incumbents Eduardo Nunez and Brendan Ryan as utility infielders and backups to starting shortstop Derek Jeter.
But a funny thing happened on the way to being demoted to Scranton. Anna played too well, as did fellow rookie Yangervis Solarte, to go away. Anna received some unfortunate help when Ryan had to go on the disabled list after he suffered a pair of back injuries. When the powers that be decided they can no longer trust Nunez's defensive play, Anna made his first opening day roster at 27-years of age. Solarte, at 26, joined him.
Sunday afternoon in Tampa Bay, Anna had one of the biggest at-bats of his big league career. It came one day after he was called on to pitch an inning the eighth inning of a 16-1 Rays' blowout. With the Yankees and Rays tied at one apiece and two outs in the 14th inning, the left-handed hitting Anna came to the plate with the bases loaded against rookie left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser, who was making his Major League debut.
Anna battled through eight pitches, coming back from being down in the count 1 and 2 to being ahead, 3 and 2. (He fouled off a pair of 2-2 pitches) Riefenhauser went to a slider away that Anna started to chase, but held up. First base umpire Rob Drake agreed and Anna happily trotted to first as Brett Gardner came home with the go ahead run.
The Yankees then broke the game open, on a Carlos Beltran 2-run single and an RBI single by Alfonso Soriano, off Josh Lueke. The Rays put two men aboard in the bottom of the 12th against Preston Claiborne, who was recalled from Scranton earlier in the day, but the right-hander retired Ben Zobrist and Logan Forsythe to preserve the win.
Replay helped the Yankees score the first run of the game in the 4th inning. With Soriano on second base, Gardner hit a deep drive that he thought was a home run, but Wil Myers appeared to make the catch for the third out. Joe Girardi challenged the call and won when video replay showed Myers snaring the ball after it hit the top of the wall.