He couldn’t quite get through five innings, but it was a better showing from Julio Teheran, who was demoted to the bullpen after struggling his first three starts.
Teheran, making a spot start, cruised through four scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth, and the Angels’ offense broke out behind him in a 12-5 win over the Astros to split Tuesday’s doubleheader at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The solid effort likely wasn’t enough to get Teheran back in the rotation, however, especially after Jaime Barria pitched well in a 6-3 loss in Game 1, allowing one run over five innings in relief.
"He did fine," said Angels manager Joe Maddon, who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the sixth inning. "He had a little bit better command of his stuff. I thought they did hit some balls hard where we were in the right spots, which is very fortunate. I was looking for him to get through five right there. But, overall, I thought his stuff was better. I thought it was better located and he had more jump on the fastball."
Teheran entered with a 10.38 ERA over 13 innings this season, and he was coming off a relief outing against the Giants that saw him surrender four runs over five innings. He missed the beginning of the season after testing positive for COVID-19 in late June, making his debut on Aug. 5.
Teheran has had some trouble finding the feel for his pitches, but he came away pleased with the way everything was working in the nightcap of the twin bill. Teheran leaned heavily on his two-seam fastball, throwing it on 30 of his 69 pitches.
"I feel way better," Teheran said. "I feel like I had feel for all my pitches. The two-seamer was incredible. That's the best I've thrown it in a long time."
The right-hander appeared on his way to picking up his first win with his new club, as the Angels opened up a 4-0 lead in the first inning and Teheran looked sharp early. He was also helped by a great diving play from third baseman David Fletcher to rob Carlos Correa of a hit in the second.
“If there's a Gold Glove you can give to somebody because they're that good, he should get one," Maddon said of Fletcher, who also went 3-for-5 at the plate. "It doesn't have to be at one position. You can put him anywhere on the infield and he can do that."
But it started to unravel for Teheran in the fifth, when he gave up a leadoff single to Yuli Gurriel and an RBI triple to Kyle Tucker. Teheran got two quick outs, including a sacrifice fly from Josh Reddick to left, but then Abraham Toro’s solo shot on a 1-0 changeup knocked Teheran from the game after 4 2/3 innings. He was charged with three runs on four hits and saw his ERA come down to 9.17 on the year.
Teheran, who had a 3.67 ERA in nine seasons with the Braves before signing a one-year deal with the Angels, was noticeably frustrated when he was removed from the game. He attributed it to his competitiveness on the mound.
“I’m the type of pitcher who likes to compete,” Teheran said. “I was in control the whole game and I didn’t feel like I needed to come out in that situation right there. Obviously, I wanted to win the game.”
Teheran also said he prefers to start. The 29-year-old has 227 career starts and only four relief appearances.
“We’ll see what’s going to happen next," Teheran said. "Obviously, I want to start games, but if they think I’m going to help them better from the bullpen, it’s nothing that I can control."