Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney had been outright bad in his last four starts. He gave up more runs than innings pitched, had an opponent OPS of 1.011 and gave up one home run every three innings. Early on in his start against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday, he appeared to be headed for that same fate.
He allowed four base runners and threw 44 pitches in the first two innings, but didn’t give up any runs. Then, in the fourth, he allowed two runs to score via a walk and two doubles, the last of which came from Willians Astudillo. After that base hit gave the Twins a 2-0 lead, Heaney did not allow another base runner.
He proceeded to throw a perfect fifth, sixth, and seventh inning, using his defense behind him to limit pitch count and help him achieve his longest start of the season. Heaney spoke about the way he’s struggled recently and what it has done to the mental aspect of his game prior to Thursday, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“This is extremely nice for us to get a win, for me to get a win for me to build on,” Heaney said. “And frankly, for my confidence, it was something I needed to have.”
“It’s hard to go through pitching the way I was pitching,” Heaney said. “Obviously you start to look at a lot of things, question a lot of things, losing a lot of confidence.”
“It sounds corny,” Heaney said. “But there are times you aren’t going good and you doubt you can get guys out. I promise I’m not the only one. I hope I’m not the only one.”
If the Angels plan on hanging around in the AL wild card race, they’re going to need their pitchers to be at their best. Thursday’s start from Heaney is a great turning point for a guy who really needed something to go his way.
Now, the Angels must keep it going against a Twins team that has already made the clear choice to sell, trading away veteran slugger Nelson Cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays prior to Thursday’s game.
Angels calling up Minor-Leaguer for Sunday vs. Twins
Joe Maddon revealed on Thursday that Shohei Ohtani’s next start was being pushed to Monday against the Colorado Rockies instead of Sunday against the Twins. Maddon also said that, for now, he’s leaving Sunday’s starter as to be decided, virtually guaranteeing that he will go to Triple-A to find his guy.
Among the options are Griffin Canning, Jaime Barria, Brian Johnson, and recently called up Chris Rodriguez.