Andrew Heaney leads Angels to win with second straight strong outing – Daily Bulletin

ANAHEIM — Joe Maddon has said at every opportunity how much he wants to see Andrew Heaney use his fastball, and the last two starts have demonstrated why.

Heaney has thrown his highest percentage of fastballs in six years in each of the past two games, and both times he’s pitched into the seventh inning while allowing one run.

“It’s a case-by-case basis, but if I could draw it up, this is the way I’d want to do it,” Heaney said after the Angels’ 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night, a game that also included a 470-foot Shohei Ohtani home run that was the longest of his career.

The Angels’ five homers – their most since 2019 – and Heaney’s strong work on the mound helped the Angels to their seventh victory in the last 10 games. The Angels (29-32) are within three games of .500 for the first time since May 11.

Improved starting pitching has keyed the turnaround, with Heaney now stacking strong performances back-to-back.

Heaney has allowed two runs in 13 innings in the last two games, throwing 75 percent fastballs on Tuesday and 73 percent last week. The last time he approached those percentages was in 2015. Prior to these two games, he was throwing his fastball 56.5 percent of the time this season.

“I felt really good with my heater tonight,” Heaney said. “When I’m going good, that’s how it goes, and it makes my secondary pitches better.”

Heaney’s fastball averages 92 mph, which isn’t overpowering, but Maddon often talks about how it plays much better than that.

“His ball has a lot of jump,” Maddon said. “There are a lot of pitchers with that kind of fastball, velocity-wise but he has this extra thing at the plate. … He’s an unusual pitcher in today’s game because the number doesn’t register that high, but the characteristics are that good.”

Maddon added that on Tuesday Heaney’s fastball was “as alive as you’re going to see it.”

Heaney got 14 called strikes and 18 whiffs on his 82 fastballs, an impressive 39 percent.

Facing a lineup with nine players swinging from the right side, Heaney worked out of two tight spots, in the second and fifth. He walked the first two hitters of the second but got out of it with a double play and a strikeout. In the fifth, he allowed back-to-back two-out singles but then he struck out Whit Merrifield.

He didn’t give up a run until the seventh, when he allowed an infield hit and then a two-out double to Hanser Alberto, ending his night.

At that point, the bullpen had a five-run lead thanks to the Angels’ homer barrage.

Ohtani got it started against lefty Kris Bubic with a first-inning blast to right-center, his 17th homer of the season. It surpassed the 451-foot homer on April 4 that had been Ohtani’s previous longest.

Since Statcast began tracking such things in 2015, the only Angels player to hit a longer homer is Mike Trout, who hit four more than 470 feet. His longest is 486 feet.

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