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Heaney takes step back as homer bug returns

@RhettBollinger
September 1, 2019

ANAHEIM -- After missing nearly a month with left shoulder inflammation, left-hander Andrew Heaney returned to action on Aug. 10 and put up an impressive rest of the month, posting a 1.82 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings. But Heaney wasn’t as sharp in his first September start,

ANAHEIM -- After missing nearly a month with left shoulder inflammation, left-hander Andrew Heaney returned to action on Aug. 10 and put up an impressive rest of the month, posting a 1.82 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings.

But Heaney wasn’t as sharp in his first September start, a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox in Sunday’s series finale at Angel Stadium, as he was charged with four runs over five innings to see his ERA rise from 3.95 to 4.16 on the year. Heaney chalked it up as one of those days where he didn’t have his best command.

Box score

“I was just a little bit out of sync,” Heaney said. “Kind of just didn’t have that good rhythm early. Just made some mistakes with some offspeed pitches in the middle of the zone. They capitalized on it. It definitely wasn’t my best effort. It was kind of a grinder.”

Heaney had trouble with his control in the first inning, as he gave up a leadoff single to Mookie Betts, who advanced twice on wild pitches before coming around to score on an RBI single from Xander Bogaerts. Heaney escaped further trouble after walking J.D. Martinez with one out, getting a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.

"He didn't have his command early, quite frankly,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “I thought the second half of his outing was better than the first half.”

Heaney was still searching for it in the third inning, when he surrendered a one-out single to Rafael Devers on a 2-2 changeup. With a 1-1 count against Bogaerts, Heaney went to his changeup again, and Bogaerts was ready for it, smacking it over the left-field fence for a two-run homer.

On the very next pitch, Heaney threw a curveball that caught too much of the plate, and Martinez connected to make it back-to-back homers. Heaney had been better about limiting homers recently, but he has allowed 14 blasts in 14 starts on the season. He did settle down, however, to retire eight of the final 10 batters he faced.

“I tried to limit damage, especially after the third inning, and try and keep us in it,” Heaney said. “I was tired of giving up homers, so I tried not to do that. It’s not necessarily a ‘lock in’ type situation. It was just a couple bad pitches in a row.”

After striking out a combined 24 batters in 14 innings over his previous two starts, Heaney struck out only four Red Sox. He registered five swinging strikes with his sinker, three with his slider and one with his changeup.

“I just didn’t have a great energy on the mound,” Heaney said. “Some mechanical-type stuff. That caused me to leak some balls middle and just not really get it going. Felt like I found a little bit late, but at that point it’s trying to salvage it.”

Ausmus ejected

Ausmus was ejected for the second time this season after arguing that Red Sox closer Brandon Workman wasn’t coming to a complete stop as part of his delivery from the stretch with Mike Trout on first and two outs in the ninth. Ausmus said he’s notified the umpires about the issue with Workman before and wasn’t pleased it wasn’t enforced properly.

“Workman was not coming to a stop,” Ausmus said. “We complained about it to the umpire crew in Boston. We complained about it the other night. It makes it very difficult, in this case with Trouty, to steal second to get the tying run into scoring position. If you're not going to enforce it, get it off the rule books. That's how I look at it.”

Left fielder Brian Goodwin was at the plate with Trout at first and said it was obvious that what Workman was doing was against the rules.

“You should know that’s basically illegal, what he’s doing,” said Goodwin, who flied out to center to end the game. “Nobody says anything about it. I think Brad did the right thing. All he can do is yell it, address it, that’s what he did. How they choose to react is on them. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

The Angels don’t play the Red Sox again this year, so they won’t see Workman again until 2020.

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