Heaney's solid start spoiled as 'pen falters

Three relievers face 12 batters in the 8th, giving up 7 runs on 7 hits

May 7th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- Behind starter , the Angels were cruising against the Rays as they looked to avoid a sweep.

Heaney put up 6 2/3 scoreless innings, struck out 10 and allowed just four hits before his day was up and he exited with a three-run lead thanks in part to a loud two-run homer from two-way star Shohei Ohtani.

Then, the Angels seemingly ran into a wall in the top of the eight inning. Relievers Mike Mayers, who replaced Heaney with two outs in the seventh inning, Aaron Slegers and Félix Peña combined to allow eight batters reach base and allowed seven runs to cross in the series-sweeping 8-3 loss to the Rays at Angel Stadium on Thursday night.

“You win some games, you lose some games and sometimes it rains,” said Heaney, who bounced back from a start in which he allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Mariners on April 30.

After Heaney was pulled with two outs in the seventh inning, Mayers gave up a homer to catcher Mike Zunino, then gave up two more runs in the next inning and didn’t record an out. Slegers and Peña gave up two runs apiece as they combined to close out an inning in which the Rays put up a seven spot on the scoreboard.

“Honestly, it was just one of those nights,” Mayers said. “I had a job to do and I didn’t do it.”

Mayers had been a consistent performer out of the Halos 'pen to start the year. Across his first 14 appearances this season, he had posted a 2.51 ERA in 14 1/3 innings.

“Tonight landed on me and I take that very personal,” Mayers said.

With the shaky outing from the bullpen, manager Joe Maddon said finding a streak of success comes with still trusting your key arms in tough situations and with the return to a normal 162-game season, those moments will be important in righting the ship early on.

“The difference between last year and this year is a couple more months of baseball compared to last year,” Maddon said. “We'll get it figured out. [You] got to show confidence and like you said, trusting your guys, keep trying to put them in the right spots and then it'll eventually come back to you.”

The loss puts the Angels as season-low four games under .500 and extends the losing skid to five straight games making it their longest streak of the season.

With the successful start in the loss, Heaney said Thursday night’s problems with the bullpens are just another part of baseball and he hopes the club can turn things around amid a stretch where they’ve lost 11 of their last 15 games.

“I mean, there's been plenty of times to myself personally that I haven't even gotten through three, four innings and the bullpen [has] had to come in and clean up my mess [to] pick us up and keep us in games,” Heaney said. “That's part of a long season. Obviously you don't want to see that happen.

“You know, it sucks, but those guys are going out there and trying. … I've had games like that, so that's part of baseball. And I know it's frustrating, obviously, you know, we're not happy about just the way the last few games have been going.”