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Heaney, high-riding Halos hit a Texas bump

@RhettBollinger
September 9, 2020

The Angels entered their series opener against the Rangers riding high after a four-game sweep over the Astros that extended their winning streak to a season-high five games. And with left-hander Andrew Heaney taking the mound after turning in two of the best starts of his career, the Angels had

The Angels entered their series opener against the Rangers riding high after a four-game sweep over the Astros that extended their winning streak to a season-high five games.

And with left-hander Andrew Heaney taking the mound after turning in two of the best starts of his career, the Angels had every reason to be confident on Tuesday. But Heaney wasn't quite as sharp as he's been recently, and he wasn't helped by the defense in a 7-1 loss to Texas at Globe Life Field, dropping the Angels to 17-26 on the year.

Box score

“Not quite as crisp as the last couple starts, just kind of average stuff,” Heaney said. “Kind of one of those games that, as the game goes on, you're kind of trying to find some little things here and there and see if you can kind of salvage a little bit, a little bit better outing. I want to win every game, and when I feel like I didn't really give us a great chance to win, it's frustrating."

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Heaney, who allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits and a walk over five innings, had allowed just one run over his last 14 2/3 innings but didn't appear to have much feel for his offspeed pitches against the Rangers. Heaney threw his breaking ball just 14 times and didn't get a swing and a miss with the pitch. He also only registered one whiff with his changeup.

Heaney had allowed just two homers through his first eight starts but served up a solo shot to Elvis Andrus in the second to put the Angels in an early hole. It came on a 1-1 fastball at the top of the zone.

“I wasn't really finishing down in the zone,” Heaney said. “A couple two-strike heaters, not in good places. Just little things here and there that just kind of piled on and added up.”

The left-hander then found himself in a jam in the third with two runners in scoring position and two outs, and was hurt by an error from Matt Thaiss at second base. It was the first time Thaiss had appeared in a game at second base, and he had trouble on a routine grounder up the middle he tried to backhand.

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“I just flat out missed it,” Thaiss said. “I think that was a play that kind of dictated the way the rest of the game went and that kind of momentum went down the drain there.”

Heaney’s struggles continued in the fifth, when he issued a leadoff walk and a double to Leody Taveras that set the stage for a pair of sacrifice flies to give the Rangers a 5-1 lead. Heaney was removed after having thrown 84 pitches, falling to 3-3 with a 4.04 ERA. The error in the fourth was out of his control, but he shouldered the blame for his fifth and final frame.

“It obviously makes a difference, but so does giving up two runs on my end the next inning,” Heaney said “So I mean, you can look back at things that happened throughout the course of the game that could have changed the outcome.”

The offense also didn’t do much to back Heaney, scoring just once against right-hander Lance Lynn, who turned in seven strong innings. Jared Walsh stayed hot with a solo homer in the fifth, but that was it.

“The game was more won by Texas based on [Lynn’s] pitching than by errors by us,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Lynn was the difference-maker in tonight's game. There's so many different ways to look at it, but he had his good stuff again, he pitched really well."

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.