Left-hander Andrew Heaney hopes the confidence he gained from his most recent start carries over into the Los Angeles Angels' game against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night in Anaheim, Calif.
Heaney (6-7, 5.32 ERA) gave up two runs on four hits in seven innings in a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday. That result couldn't have come soon enough for Heaney, considering his previous outings.
The 30-year-old posted a 1-4 record with an 8.79 ERA in his previous five starts. So perhaps it's no surprise that Heaney gave himself a little pep talk after each inning against the Twins.
"It's hard to go through pitching the way I was before," Heaney said. "Obviously you start to look at things and question a lot of things and lose confidence. It can be difficult, so every time I came off the mound, I just kept telling myself, 'I'm a good (expletive) player.' And I had to keep doing that because sometimes you don't feel like that."
It seemed to work, as Heaney lasted seven innings for the first time all season.
Heaney is 2-1 with a 3.10 ERA in three career starts against Colorado, including a start last season in which he held the Rockies to three runs in seven innings to earn the victory.
He has 105 strikeouts in 88 innings this season, an average of 10.7 per nine innings. Striking out Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, however, is a little tougher to do.
Blackmon has reduced his strikeout rate to 12.5 percent this season despite hitting primarily in the cleanup spot after spending most of his career as a leadoff hitter. His career strikeout rate is 16.5 percent.
Blackmon's plate discipline has been tested by hitting toward the middle of the lineup, he said, because he gets fewer fastballs than he did as a leadoff hitter. So it's been a matter of keeping himself steady in the batter's box.
"It's effort management," Blackmon said. "My leg kick is a little smaller. My head is a little more still."
Heaney will be opposed Wednesday by Rockies right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez (3-6, 6.06), who has surrendered six runs or more in four of his 15 starts. The most recent such occurrence came July 16 when he was rocked for seven runs and nine hits in just four innings of a 10-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 19 appearances and 15 starts already are career highs for Gonzalez, who missed all of 2017 and 2018 seasons following Tommy John surgery. He made just six appearances (four starts) in 2020.
Angels first baseman Jared Walsh is doubtful for Wednesday's game after feeling "something" in his abdomen when taking a swing during Monday's game. A trip to the injured list remains a possibility.
--Field Level Media