Great pitching and tremendous hustle lead LA Angels, Heaney to 1st win

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

LA Angels lefty Andrew Heaney has struggled in 2019. With an ERA over 5 and an 0-1 record Heaney took the mound Tuesday night.

The LA Angels had a chance to get to .500 again and so did lefty Andrew Heaney.  Heaney did his job on the mound going 5.1 innings of one run baseball. All-Star hopeful Tommy La Stella hit the first inside-the-park home run for the Angels since Peter Bourjos did it 2012 in Minnesota. It was the first inside-the-park home run at Angel Stadium since 2006 when Chone Figgins did it vs. Texas.

La Stella’s home run tied the game at one, but it seemed to spark the Angels as the very next inning Luis Rengifo hit his third career home run, a three-run shot to right-center that gave Heaney and the Angels a 4-1 lead.

LA Angels Luis Rengifo has been hot over the last week
ANAHEIM, CA – JUNE 25: Curt Casali #12 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on as Luis Rengifo #4 of the Los Angeles Angels hits a three run home run in the second inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

After giving up a home run to Joey Votto in the first inning, Heaney looked like he may not make it out of the first inning as he walked Eugenia Suarez and gave up a Jose Iglesias single. That brought up Phillip Ervin who reached on an infield single, but La Stella again made a huge play catching Suarez trying to score from second throwing the ball to catcher Jonathan Lucroy who threw it back to David Fletcher who tagged out Suarez to end the threat helping Heaney escape the first.

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In the second inning Jose Peraza led off with a single, but Heaney picked him off and got out of the second inning unscathed.

The Rengifo blast seemed to reinvigorate Heaney as he settled down giving up only one hit the rest of the way.  After a one-out walk to Suarez in the 6th inning Heaney gave way to Noe Ramirez who struck out Yasiel Puig (who got ejected for arguing balls and strikes), and then getting Jose Iglesias fly out to Mike Trout to end the 6th. Ramirez then struck out two more batters in a perfect 7th inning.

Not to be outdone by La Stella’s hustle, Wilfredo Tovar pinch ran for Tommy La Stella after La Stella had singled to lead-off the bottom of the seventh. Tovar went to second on a Mike Trout fly out.  Then Tovar took advantage of a Shohei Ohtani sacrifice fly to left and the lack of attention that Reds left fielder Jose Pereza paid to Tovar after the catch and Tovar tagged up at second and never stopped running scoring from second base with a head-first dive into home plate for a 5-1 Angel lead.

From there the Angel bullpen pitched two more scoreless innings from Ty Buttrey and Hansel Robles to secure Heaney’s first victory since September 9th of 2018 and lowered his ERA under 5 (4.99).

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However it all started with the hustle of La Stella and culminated by Tovar’s hustle play.  Mixed in was Rengifo’s three-run blast.  With Andrelton Simmons set to return in the next couple of days the Angels will most likely be sending Rengifo to the minors since his playing time will be cut and Tovar is out of options and would have to clear waivers if the Angels wanted to option him to Triple-A.

Rengifo has been on fire as of late hitting .346 with two homers and seven RBIs in the last week with a .433 OBP.  He has definitely made a lasting impression on the Angels and their fans.

The Angels will now try to go back over the .500 mark on Wednesday against the Reds with Jaime Barria on the mound with Trevor Cahill expected to come on in relief.  This is called a piggyback start which the Angels have been experimenting with in the low minors.

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A piggyback start is where the starter works four to five innings followed by another starter who will come on in relief to possibly finish the game with four to five innings of relief work. We will see how this experiment goes.