Heaney allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and did it with a similar formula to his previous start, when he limited the Giants to one run over 6 1/3 frames with seven punchouts on June 1. Heaney has started throwing his four-seamer more and with great success, as he got 18 swings and misses on the pitch on Tuesday. He threw his fastball 75 percent of the time against Kansas City and 73 percent of the time against San Francisco; the lefty was previously throwing the pitch at roughly a 57 percent clip.
Heaney noted that he pitched with early leads in both starts, but he hinted that he could continue to lean heavily on his heater going forward.
“It’s a case-by-case basis, but if I could draw it up, this is the way I’d want to do it,” said Heaney, who lowered his ERA from 5.24 to 4.37 over his last two starts. “When I’m going good, that’s how it goes, and it makes my secondary pitches better.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon said earlier in the season that he wanted to see Heaney throw more fastballs because the left-hander has unusual deception with the pitch despite it not having upper-echelon velocity. So while there’s been an emphasis on pitchers throwing more offspeed pitches in recent years, he believes Heaney is a rare starter who can lean primarily on his four-seamer.
“With a guy like him, he’s an anomaly,” Maddon said. “His fastball plays big all the time. And the other pitches aren’t as good as that pitch. That pitch is outstanding. But we have other guys who have to have a mix in a more balanced way.”
Maddon believes Rendon’s timing will improve
Third baseman Anthony Rendon, who has yet to get going offensively this year, took a round of batting practice left-handed before Wednesday’s series finale against the Royals. Maddon said he’s seen hitters do it as a way to help their normal swing, as it gives them a better feel for their hip rotation.
Rendon has been swinging the bat better in June, hitting .310/.355/.414 with three doubles and nine RBIs in seven games. But he still hasn't homered since May 3, which was the same day he suffered a contusion on his left knee that kept him out of action until May 14.
“He’s not hurt,” Maddon said. “He just hasn’t recaptured the form yet. But he’s young and he’s really good. I believe he’ll get hot. The game owes it to us. He’s too good to have those kinds of numbers. We’ll stay with him, obviously. I have a lot of faith in him.”
• Maddon said he believes baserunning has gotten worse at the Major League level because it’s not being taught properly in the Minor Leagues, adding that teams are too afraid of players making an out on the bases due to analytics. He said he’s trying to make it more of an emphasis in the Angels’ organization, especially in the Minors, because he believes that’s where it needs to be taught.
• Right-hander Alex Cobb and left-hander Patrick Sandoval are slated to start in Interleague Play this weekend against the D-backs, so they both took batting practice on Wednesday. Sandoval was proud to hit two homers in batting practice and joked that he hopes to hit one in his start on Sunday. He’s 0-for-2 with two strikeouts in his career, while Cobb is 2-for-23 with a double.
• Max Stassi has been hot at the plate and caught his third game in a row on Wednesday night. Maddon, however, said Kurt Suzuki will get the start on Friday with Shohei Ohtani on the mound, as Suzuki remains Ohtani’s personal catcher.
• The Angels and MemorialCare are offering COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday at Angel Stadium. The first 150 people to get vaccinated will receive four Field MVP tickets for the club's game against the Tigers on June 17. It'll be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and more details, including how to pre-register, can be found at Angels.com/vaccine.