But for Heaney, it was a night full of milestones. First big league win. Most strikeouts in a game. Most innings pitched. Fewest hits allowed. And all against the league’s second highest-scoring offense.
His thoughts on it all?
"It was great."
And that’s all he had to say about it. When asked if he expected the win, he said he was just proud to help his team win. After six starts across two brief stints in the majors, he was pretty sure that first victory would come eventually.
Entering the matchup, Heaney’s career record of 0-3 with a 5.09 ERA hardly suggested a dominating performance. But his final stat line of seven innings pitched, seven strikeouts, two hits and one run now gives him two straight strong starts.
Coming up to replace the injured Jared Weaver on June 24, he pitched well, going six innings and giving up just one run on four hits to the division-leading Astros. The only reason he didn’t collect win number one then was the lack of run support, a common woe for Angels pitchers as of late — the Halos have averaged 2.6 runs per game over the last 10 contests.
Tuesday night, it looked as though the offense would let him down again. In the second inning, Heaney missed badly on a fastball to Mark Teixeira, who promptly sent the ball sailing over the left-center field fence. But after that, Heaney settled down and never let a Yankee advance into scoring position.
"Really just the one pitch to Mark Teixeira that he left over the heart of the plate and he hooked it for a home run. Outside that, he kept them off stride all night," Mike Scioscia said. "Just a great effort."
One of the keys to Heaney’s winning effort was getting ahead in the count, Scioscia said. Against 24 batters, Heaney threw a first pitch strike 14 times. He also benefited from strong defense behind him, getting two double plays.
"He did a lot of things we tried to put together in his game plan. We opened up both corners and changed speeds a little bit, mixed in his slider and changeup," Scioscia said.
Heaney had another milestone early on in the game when he faced Alex Rodriguez for the first time in his career. On a 3-2 count, Heaney struck out the resurgent slugger.
"It was nice to get out of the inning, I guess,” Heaney said when asked what it felt like to strike out one of baseball’s most prolific home run hitters.
Heaney credited his strong two starts to his comfort and confidence with the Angels, compared to his inexperience with the Marlins last year, when he allowed 19 runs in 29 1/3 innings.
But he might not want to get too comfortable. With Weaver on the mend and Scioscia not completely ruling out the possibility of seeing him back before the All-Star break, it is possible Heaney could become the odd man out very soon.
He’s OK with that, though. At the moment, he’s focused on staying locked in and helping out however he can. That could mean one more start, or many.
For his part, Scioscia did say Heaney had earned at least a few more chances.
"Anytime a player gets an opportunity and performs well, he gets more of an opportunity. There’s no doubt if he continues to throw the ball like he can, we’re going to keep giving him the ball," he said.