He was battered early and, although never actually knocked out, Andrew Heaney certainly was knocked around.
Afterward, after the Angels lost to Detroit 6-2Thursday, after a first inning that looked more like a first round, the left-hander fittingly likened the experience to a fight.
“They came out, punched me right in the mouth,” Heaney said of the Tigers. “Took me a bit to kind of regain and start making some better pitches.”
But by then, it was too late, much too late on a day when the Angels’ offense went one for seven with runners in scoring position and three for 16 with men on base.
Heaney had produced quality starts in each of his past five outings and hadn’t allowed more than two runs in a game since April 20. His earned-run average during the latter stretch: 1.45.
After he retired Detroit’s first hitter of the afternoon, he yielded back-to-back doubles to bring home a run. Then Heaney got James McCann to ground out, giving himself a chance to minimize the damage.
Instead, the Tigers maximized the opportunity when their next four hitters reached base, including Victor Reyes, who had a three-run triple to make it 5-0.
“Just didn’t make some good pitches,” Heaney said. “It just happens.”
Suddenly, in the span of four innings going back to Wednesday, the Angels had allowed Detroit two five-run rallies, which had everything to do with losing just their second road series of the season.
Unfortunately for the Angels, those two series have been their past two series, here and in New York. Overall, they’ve lost four of five to fall to 30-27, the first time they’ve been as few as three games over .500 since April 7.
After that laborious 28-pitch first inning, Heaney started the second by engaging in a 13-pitch battle with Niko Goodrum. The at-bat ended in a walk.
Four pitches later, Nicholas Castellanos singled, pushing Heaney’s count to 45 and still he had retired only three batters.
From there, however, he rallied to pitch through the fifth inning, no small accomplishment in this era of bullpen preservation.
“They know I’m going to attack the strike zone,” Heaney said. “I kind of had to make an adjustment a little bit. It was a little too late. When you give up five runs that quick, it kind of pretty much puts the game out of hand.”
That’s especially true when the offense fizzles. The Angels failed to score in the third when two of their best hitters -- Mike Trout and Justin Upton -- went down consecutively with two runners on.
They failed to score again in the fourth when three of their other hitters -- Jefry Marte, Chris Young and Kole Calhoun -- went down consecutively with two runners on.
So, there was plenty of failure to go around as the Angels’ only runs were provided by rookie catcher Jose Briceno, who hit his second career homer in his second career start, and Trout, who had an RBI single in the eighth.
Upton, a former Tiger who received an award before the game Monday for his contributions to the team last season, finished the series one for 16.
“Even the best of hitters at times just aren’t squaring balls up like they can,” Angels manger Mike Scioscia said. “He’s right now in a little bit of a rut. But he’ll work his way through it. He’s too good of a talent.”
Want something positive? Ian Kinsler, another former Tiger, arrived Monday batting .178 for the season. Nine hits later, he left with his average at .217.
The Angels finished this 10-game trip 4-6 and now return home to face a Texas team they swept on the road in April in three games. By the score of 26-6.