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Heaney baffles Rangers for second straight start

Left-hander has fanned 24 over 14 innings in last two outings vs. Texas
@RhettBollinger
August 28, 2019

ANAHEIM -- Since returning from the injured list after nearly a month with left shoulder inflammation, Andrew Heaney has been on a solid run and he kept it going with another impressive outing against the Rangers on Tuesday. Heaney, coming off an outing that saw him set a career high

ANAHEIM -- Since returning from the injured list after nearly a month with left shoulder inflammation, Andrew Heaney has been on a solid run and he kept it going with another impressive outing against the Rangers on Tuesday.

Heaney, coming off an outing that saw him set a career high with 14 strikeouts over eight innings against Texas, couldn’t quite match that total, but he still struck out 10 over six strong frames in a 5-2 win in the series opener at Angel Stadium. It was the fourth time an Angels pitcher struck out 10 batters in a game this season -- Heaney has accounted for all of those games.

Box score

“First of all, when I'm healthy, I know how good I can be,” Heaney said. “That's No. 1. That's been my issue for a few years now. That's the first thing, having the confidence to go out there and not worry about your arm flying off is a pretty big thing.”

Since rejoining the rotation on Aug. 10, Heaney has posted a 1.82 ERA with 34 strikeouts and four walks in 24 2/3 innings, easing any concerns about his effectiveness this season despite missing time with both elbow and shoulder inflammation. Heaney lowered his season ERA to 3.95 in 13 starts, while he's also struck out 88 batters in 70 2/3 innings.

He credited working with pitching coach Doug White on what he termed “pitch development,” which he believes has made his stuff better, and he’s coupled that with more aggression in the zone. The Rangers have had a tough time deciphering what’s coming from Heaney, which is something the left-hander has worked on with White.

"We can’t figure him out," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "It’s a good mix. You can tell when he’s confident. It’s almost like he’s throwing fastballs and we’re looking changeup, and changeups and we’re looking fastballs. He’s pitched really well against us."

Heaney had his stuff working from the start, as he retired the first seven batters he faced, including five by strikeout. But he was hurt in the third by a one-out single from Delino DeShields to right field that took a difficult hop into Kole Calhoun’s shoulder, causing him to be charged with a tough-luck error. The Rangers capitalized after Shin-Soo Choo singled home DeShields with two outs on a 3-2 curveball. The run was unearned because of the error, but Calhoun later made up for it with a two-run double with the bases loaded as part of a four-run seventh against Mike Minor.

“Definitely the story of the game for us, Andrew throwing the ball like he can,” Calhoun said. “The strikeouts have been off the charts lately. Awesome to see him throwing the ball so well. He's a guy that we're going to lean on to go deep into games, and he's done that the last two times out.”

Heaney, though, wasn’t as efficient as he was in his last start, and briefly lost his command in the sixth, issuing a pair of two-out walks on nine pitches. But he got Rougned Odor to line out on a nice play by shortstop Andrelton Simmons to get out of the inning and finish his night after throwing 99 pitches.

Of those 99 pitches, Heaney registered 20 swinging strikes, including 11 with his sinker, five with his changeup and four with his curveball. He threw just one four-seamer all night, getting Elvis Andrus to ground out to short with a 2-2 count in the first inning.

“The one thing he has is the ability to miss bats with the fastball,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “Even guys who throw harder than him don’t necessarily have the ability to miss bats with the fastball. When you can miss bats with the fastball, it makes it easier to miss bats with your breaking ball and changeup.”

Trout hits homer No. 43, reaches 100 RBIs

Angels superstar Mike Trout retook the Major League lead in homers with his 43rd blast of the year on a solo shot in the eighth inning off reliever Rafael Montero. It also helped Trout reach 100 RBIs for the third time in his career, and the first time since 2016.

Trout’s solo shot came on a 2-2 fastball from Montero and gave the Angels an insurance run after they scored four times in the seventh. It marked the second time in his career that Trout has reached 100 runs, 100 RBIs and 100 walks in a season, as he also accomplished that in 2016, when he last won the American League Most Valuable Player Award.

“You kind of always expect it from him,” Ausmus said. “That’s the downside of being Mike. You’re expected to hit the ball 410 feet every time up, and it’s kind of unfair to him. I think he got something down in the zone that he could drive, and he pummeled it.”

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