The Angels' rotation had some issues in the first month of the season.
As a unit, Halos starters rank near the bottom of the league in categories including ERA (5.82), innings (106 2/3), WHIP (1.42) and runs (75) through 24 games.
Heaney came into the series opener in Seattle with an impressive stretch of having allowed three runs over 17 2/3 innings over his last three starts. That wave of success came to an end after Heaney gave up four runs on six hits -- three solo homers -- and two walks in just 3 1/3 innings in the series-opening loss.
Heaney said his inability to attack the strike zone was a factor in his short outing.
“I just didn't get a good feel tonight,” Heaney said. “I was kind of all over the place. I didn't really establish anything in the strike zone. I didn't put guys away when I got ahead. Didn't make great pitches, when I needed to.”
The lefty struggled with his command and had trouble putting away batters. Of the 18 hitters Heaney faced, eight of worked full counts, raising his pitch count up to 90 before he was replaced by Junior Guerra in the fourth inning.
Heaney gave up three solo home runs all on high fastballs. The first came off the bat of Mitch Haniger in the first inning, then Dylan Moore and Tom Murphy each went deep off the Halos lefty in the second and fourth, respectively. Coming into Friday, Heaney had given up just one home run this season, which came in his first start against the White Sox on April 2.
“I mean, the one that really pissed me off is the Murphy one,” Heaney said. “0-2 [count], there's no reason that that should be anything near or in the strike zone. So that's annoying. But, I've always said, solo homers don't beat you and I guess the one caveat to that would be giving up a solo homer every inning you pitch. So, you know, it was a frustrating outing, and definitely not one that I'm happy about.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon said Heaney had quality stuff, but the Mariners got the better of him on three pitches.
“He didn't throw the ball badly,” Maddon said. “[Heaney] didn't get the results he was looking for and they did hit some homers out, up and down the lineup, so it was kind of confusing a bit because I thought he was making decent pitches.”
Because Heaney wasn’t able to pitch past the fourth, that made it the fifth time in the last eight games an Angels starter has not completed four or more innings.
The Angels relied on Guerra, Alex Claudio, Aaron Slegers and Ben Rowen to close out the game. The relievers gave up a three runs collectively, two of which were earned.
Maddon said starting pitching can dictate game flow, especially in games like Friday's where the Angels took an early lead with two runs in the first inning.
“The pitching sets the tone,” Maddon said. “We came out hot and we looked really good, and then we gave it up there and [it] put us back in a tight position.”