Joe Maddon didn’t get through his second full week as the Angels’ official manager before he faced second-guessing over his early hook of starter Andrew Heaney on Wednesday night.
The Angels’ bats were potent, but the bullpen coughed up a pair of leads in the sixth and seventh innings in a 10-7 defeat to the visiting Seattle Mariners, wasting a prime evening for the Angels’ offense.
Heaney had seemed in control of his second start of this pandemic-shortened season, but Maddon pulled Heaney after the lefty issued a walk to J.P. Crawford, who was leading off the sixth.
Maddon relieved Heaney then and there, even though he had only thrown 64 pitches after watching a downturn in Heaney’s velocity in the fourth and fifth.
At the time of the early hook, Heaney had allowed five of the previous 10 Mariners to reach base despite battling out of problems.
The decline on Heaney’s fastball alarmed Maddon.
“Just replay the fifth,” Maddon said. “It looked like (Heaney) had a difficult time getting through the fifth. He leads off the sixth with a five-pitch walk. It looked like he had lost his rhythm. His velocity was coming down.”
Heaney’s fastball sat at 92 mph over the first two innings, dropped down to 91 in the third, and stayed flat-lined at 90 mph from the fourth through sixth.
“I felt fine,” Heaney said. “I was a little surprised to see Joe making his way out there.
“I understand analytically what the numbers say with the third time through the lineup. But I left like (catcher Jason) Castro and I had done a good job of trying to sneak as many fastballs in there as we could early in the game. And given ourselves a chance to mix it up a little bit more the third time through — and getting a better feel for some of those pitches.”
After Heaney was lifted, however, all the feeling was in the barrels of the Mariners’ bats.
Mike Mayers and Jacob Barnes — a pair of relievers Maddon had admired from his days in the National League — got roughed up quickly after Heaney’s exit.
Mayers, who pitched against Maddon’s Chicago Cubs for the St. Louis Cardinals, and Barnes, who was with the Milwaukee Brewers, didn’t resemble their NL forms.
The pair of them coughed up six earned runs and only combined to get two outs.
Four of the first six Mariners against Mayers reached base, and three scored on Dylan Moore’s homer that pushed Seattle ahead 6-4.
The Angels bats weren’t going down without a fight thought. They recaptured the lead on Justin Upton’s 300th career home run and a two-run double by outfielder Brian Goodwin.
The bullpen woes returned though, in the seventh. Barnes didn’t record an out and loaded the bases on a single and back-to-back walks. Ty Buttrey tried to put out that fire, and got all three hitters he faced, but the first two outs scored Mariners.
Maddon wouldn’t second-guess himself.
“Mayers and Barnes, we have a lot of faith in and anticipate a better result,” he said. “Just can’t pile on guys like that if they’ve had a bad night.
“Walking too many guys, not being assertive in the strike zone. We actually lined it up pretty well … I liked what we had once we got through Andrew. Mayers just had a tough game.”