Heaney does 'terrific job' for Rangers in return to rotation

November 1st, 2023

PHOENIX -- found out he was going to make his first start in the World Series late Monday night. It was the moment he had been working for his entire career, but also gave him an opportunity for redemption.

The last time he started in the postseason, Heaney lasted just two-thirds of an inning, giving up three earned runs to the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. Heaney was devastated to let his team down, but his one poor outing didn’t affect the Rangers’ postseason chase.

In Game 4 of the World Series at Chase Field, he delivered in the big moment. Heaney pitched five innings and only allowed one run on four hits in the Rangers’ 11-7 win over the D-backs on Tuesday night.

His performance, along with an offensive eruption, now puts Texas just one win away from its first World Series championship in franchise history.

“I just want to win the game,” Heaney said. “I want us to win. We did that. So now we're obviously in a great position and need to finish it off.”

When Heaney was named the starter for the Rangers, it was easy to assume that Texas was in for a bullpen game. Three hours before the game started, manager Bruce Bochy was asked about having to go through a bullpen game, with Heaney coming out as the “opener.”

“He's not an opener, I will say,” Bochy said. “Can't tell you how far he's going to go. That's determined by how things are going.”

By the end of the second inning, things were going very well. The Rangers led 5-0, highlighted by a two-run home run from Corey Seager.

Texas added five more runs in the third inning to give Heaney plenty of confidence to finish his outing. It was the deepest he had pitched since Aug. 29.

“That's huge,” Heaney said. “Five runs in the second inning there, really takes a lot of pressure off. And then putting up five the very next inning, we had a 10-run lead. It's a lot easier to go out there, attack the strike zone and not feel so confined to having to make perfect pitches.”

Bochy returned to the same podium after the Rangers' victory, with a smile on his face when asked about Heaney’s outing.

“He did a great job, didn't he?” Bochy said. “That's about where we wanted him. We were hoping to get five innings. Terrific job.”

It wasn’t just the skipper that had the confidence in Heaney. Marcus Semien, who went 2-for-5 with five RBIs, was excited from the moment Heaney was announced as the Rangers’ starter.

“Whatever he may be grinding through, if he's not throwing as well, he's still going to be the same guy with the same attitude,” Semien said. “No matter whether it's the regular season or the World Series. That's the type of personalities we have in the clubhouse. And that was huge for us today.”

Heaney made his debut with the Marlins in 2014, then spent the next six-plus seasons with the Angels before getting dealt at the 2021 Trade Deadline to the Yankees, where he struggled and was moved to the bullpen. After an injury-riddled 2022 campaign with the Dodgers, Texas took a chance on Heaney, signing him to a two-year deal.

He may not be a big name like Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi or Max Scherzer, but he played a huge role for Texas. Although he was used out of the bullpen in September, Heaney made 28 starts for the Rangers and had 151 strikeouts in the regular season, which led the team.

Now, he can add “winning a World Series game” to his resume -- and he could soon also hold the title of “World Series champion.”

“It's awesome,” Heaney said. “I've had a lot of ups and downs in my career. I've been on a bunch of different teams and never had this opportunity.”