ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani made sure Andrew Heaney's final start of the season ended on a high note, crushing a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning to lift the Angels to a 3-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday night and complete a three-game sweep at Angel Stadium.Ohtani snapped
ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani made sure Andrew Heaney's final start of the season ended on a high note, crushing a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning to lift the Angels to a 3-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday night and complete a three-game sweep at Angel Stadium.
Ohtani snapped a 2-2 tie by hammering a fastball from former Nippon-Ham Fighters teammate Chris Martin off the top of the left-field wall for his 22nd home run of the year. Six of his homers have come against the Rangers -- his most against any opponent.
"I'd been his teammate for a couple years in Japan, and he's been really great in Japan, pitching really well," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "It was my first time facing him, but I was able to see him from the on-deck circle and also earlier in the season. He had made really good pitches, but I was able to adjust pretty well during that at-bat. He left a pitch up in the zone, the last pitch, and I was able to swing through it."
Ohtani's 22 home runs match the career high he set with the Fighters in 2016, adding yet another highlight to a historic campaign that has made him a favorite in the American League Rookie of the Year race.
"I see it as two completely different things," Ohtani said. "Different countries, different pitchers, different ballparks, different balls. But being able to accomplish my career high in my first year in the big leagues is a huge thing for me. I'm proud of that."
With rookie Ty Buttrey shut down for the season due to right knee bursitis, veteran right-hander Jim Johnson was summoned to pitch the ninth and posted a scoreless inning to shut the door for the Angels (78-81), who will have to win their final three games of the year against the A's this weekend to avoid their third consecutive season with a losing record.
Ohtani's heroics ensured that the Angels didn't squander a quality start from Heaney, who yielded two runs over seven innings to put the finishing touches on a successful comeback season. In his first full season since returning from Tommy John surgery, the 27-year-old left-hander logged a 4.15 ERA over a career-high 180 innings.
"I think that there's still a lot of juice to be squeezed," Heaney said. "I don't know if that makes any sense. I just feel like there's more in the tank. Just from doing some different things. I'll work on that in the offseason and coming into Spring Training, and hopefully be able to put some of the good peripheral numbers that I have into some better performances and be able to get us some more wins."
Heaney opened the season on the disabled list after a bout of elbow inflammation cropped up during Spring Training, but he missed only two weeks before making his 2018 debut on April 13. He went on to make 30 consecutive starts for the Angels, emerging as the sturdiest pillar in the club's injury-wracked rotation.
"Other than the first couple weeks, being able to take the ball every fifth or sixth day is something that all pitchers pride themselves on," Heaney said. "It was something that I haven't done in my career really before, so it's something I can definitely build on."
Heaney finishes the 2018 season with career highs in virtually every category, including starts, innings pitched, strikeouts (180) and wins (9). Earlier this month, he was recognized by his teammates as the winner of the Nick Adenhart Award, which is given annually to the team's top pitcher.
"I think he's been terrific," manager Mike Scioscia said before the game. "You're talking about a guy that has jumped up from wondering -- especially when he had a little setback with his elbow coming out of Spring Training -- where he was going to be to putting the exclamation point on where he is and where he can be. He's thrown against some incredibly tough lineups when they've been playing at a very, very high level, and he's shut them down. I think that just points to Andrew's talent. Hopefully, he'll continue to grow from here."
A pair of solo home runs by Adrian Beltre and Jurickson Profar accounted for all of the damage against Heaney.
Beltre, a frequent nemesis for Heaney, led off the second by depositing a 1-1 sinker into the hedges over the center-field fence to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Beltre is 8-for-17 (.471) with four home runs and nine RBIs against Heaney in his career.
The Angels tied it in the fourth after Justin Upton doubled and scored on Ohtani's RBI single off Texas left-hander Yohander Mendez, but Profar homered in the fifth to restore the Rangers' lead.
It wouldn't last, however, as Taylor Ward countered with a solo shot in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at 2. It was Ward's fourth home run of his rookie campaign and his first since Sept. 3.
After surrendering the home run to Profar, Heaney capped his outing by retiring the final nine batters he faced. He departed after walking one, striking out 10 and throwing 100 pitches.
"He pitched well," Scioscia said. "I think that and the fact that he pitched this deep into this season, this many innings and maintained his stuff -- I think gives him a lot of confidence for next year that he can repeat it, start strong and finish strong and be the No. 1 guy. He's got that kind of stuff."
Heaney became the first Angels pitcher to throw 100 pitches in a game since July 22, when he also reached the benchmark in a 104-pitch effort against the Astros.
The Angels will enjoy an off-day Thursday before kicking off their final series of the season against the A's on Friday night at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Rookie Jaime Barria (10-9, 3.54 ERA) will oppose Oakland right-hander Mike Fiers (12-7, 3.31) in the series opener. It will be Barria's first career appearance against the A's.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.