Angels starter Andrew Heaney unleashed his fastest pitch of a career-best performance as the heat index at Globe Life Park approached 110 degrees Tuesday afternoon. When the 94-mph fastball zipped into the zone for a strike, one could barely tell the left-hander had thrown 107 pitches.
Heaney did not succumb to the stifling heat in the Angels’ 5-1 victory in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. He struck out a career-high 14. He retired 16 in a row after giving up back-to-back singles in the first inning and finished his outing with just one run charged to his name.
The Angels failed to bookend Heaney’s strong outing with a sweep. They lost the nightcap 3-2, walked off in the 11th inning for the second time in two nights. With runners on first and second and two outs, first baseman Albert Pujols let a sharp ground ball get past him. The Rangers’ Nick Solak, who hit the grounder and was playing his first two major league games in the twinbill, was swarmed at first base by teammates.
Ty Buttrey (6-6) was charged with the loss. Starter Jaime Barria received a no-decision after his attempt to build on Heaney’s success fell short. Barria gave up two runs in five innings — with both runs coming in the fifth. Solak got just enough of his bat on Barria’s elevated fastball to poke the pitch to the opposite field in right for a solo homer. The Rangers scored once more to build a 2-0 lead.
The Angels struggled to get back in the game, handcuffed by Brock Burke. In his big league debut, the left-hander limited the Angels to four hits. He was in line for a win until Brian Goodwin hit a solo homer with one out in the ninth off Rangers closer Jose Leclerc to tie the score 2-2 and send the game to extras.
Despite the split, Angels manager Brad Ausmus took comfort in his starters’ performances. Barria retired 10 consecutive batters at one point, going toe-to-toe with Burke. And Heaney turned in the longest start of any Angels pitcher this season.
During this injury-riddled season, Heaney has struggled to stay active long enough to replicate the success he had while leading the Angels with 30 starts and 180 strikeouts in 180 innings last year. A spring-training elbow injury sidelined him until late May; shoulder inflammation in July forced him to miss three more weeks.
In his 12th start of the season, Heaney finally showed flashes of his previous form.
After the Angels used eight pitchers and surrendered nine walks in an 11-inning loss Monday night, Heaney (3-3) didn’t walk anyone for a second consecutive start. He threw 79 of 108 pitches for strikes. He induced 22 swings-and-misses.
Hard contact eluded most all the Rangers who faced him.
“I was able to keep all my pitches on line and through the strike zone,” said Heaney, who joined Dan Haren (May24, 2012) and Frank Tanana (June21, 1975) as the only Angels pitchers to strike out at least 14 without a walk. “I tried to just get ahead early. Everyone knows it’s hot. I was trying to get as deep into the game as I can, trying to save the bullpen.”
Mike Trout’s career-high 42nd home run scored two in a three-run first inning in the opener. Theblast gave Heaney cushion in the heat.
Heaney wasted few pitches. He gave up a solo home run to Willie Calhoun in the sixth and a single to Solak in the seventh but hardly exerted himself otherwise. When he left the mound after each inning, he hid in the shade and sat in front of a fan.
Heaney’s cooling techniques and quick innings in the opener, which was the makeup of the July 1 game that was postponed after Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his Texas hotel room, helped Ausmus stay away from his taxed bullpen until the ninth. That proved important in the night game, when the manager needed five pitchers through the final six innings.
Heaney prolonged a resurgence that began when he returned from his latest injured list stint Aug.10. He has given up five earned runs in 182/3 innings over his last three starts. Hitters have hit .164 against the left-hander, with most of their limited damage coming on the three homers he has surrendered.
“This is the guy we thought we had when he’s healthy,” Ausmus said.
It is too late for Heaney to turn around what he referred to as a disappointing season. But carrying momentum from this start onward would allow him to script an optimistic ending.
“I want to finish strong,” Heaney said. “I understand I’ve had a disappointing season. I am trying rectify that any way I can.”
Cody Bellinger and Mike Trout comparison
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Source: Baseball Reference