April 14, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Angels’ rally attempt falls short as they lose to White Sox

Mike Trout drew a walk. Albert Pujols was intentionally walked. And José Iglesias came to the plate with the tying and go-ahead runners on base and two outs in the eighth inning.

It felt like a gamble from Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa, giving a free pass to his old first baseman with his team clinging to a one-run lead. But it worked, with closer Liam Hendriks inducing a deep fly out to diffuse the Angels’ last true threat in an eventual 12-8 win for the White Sox on Friday night at Angel Stadium.

It took a lot for the Angels to even make it close in their second game of the season, rallying from what was once a 7-1 deficit with a three-run fourth inning (courtesy of a three-run homer by Pujols) and two-run fifth (when White Sox right fielder Adam Eaton missed a fly ball near the foul line, allowing two runs to score).

The eighth inning was their best chance to come all the way back, though, as the White Sox piled on five runs in the top of the ninth to pull away.

Here are other observations from Friday.

Heaney struggles in season debut

Angels starter Andrew Heaney gave up seven runs in three-plus innings.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

It all started so well for Andrew Heaney.

A strikeout of José Abreu to complete a 1-2-3 first inning. Back-to-back strikeouts of Yoan Moncada and Andrew Vaughn to begin the next. And a flyout from Yasmani Grandal to end the second on a 95.2-mph heater, Heaney’s hardest pitch in the regular season since 2019.

In his first start of 2021, a season in which he is hoping to finally break through as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, Heaney retired his first seven batters overall with ease.

He got just two more outs the rest of the night.

In the third inning, Heaney gave up back-to-back singles, then a two-out walk to load the bases, then a back-breaking grand slam to Abreu — the ball vanishing into the glove of a fan in the first row of the right-field seats, and Heaney’s auspicious beginning to the night right along with it.

The left-hander was removed after giving up another run in the third, leaving behind two runners who also later scored. His final line: three-plus innings, seven earned runs, five hits, two walks, four strikeouts. His biggest problem: limiting damage with his changeup.

During the first 2⅓ innings, Heaney recorded six of his seven outs with the fastball — his most trusted pitch but also one he said this spring he has sometimes been too “stubborn” with, throwing it in situations where his off-speed and breaking offerings might be better.

But as the third inning unfolded, it was the changeup that undid Heaney’s start. Yermín Mercedes slapped one into center field for his first career hit. Nick Madrigal singled on another, dropping a line drive in front of Justin Upton in left. Heaney missed with back-to-back changeups to walk Luis Robert and load the bases. Then, he left one over the middle of the plate that Abreu didn’t miss.

The Angels' Albert Pujols runs toward home plate after hitting a three-run home run in the fourth inning.

The Angels’ Albert Pujols runs toward home plate after hitting a three-run home run in the fourth inning.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Rodriguez, Rojas make MLB debuts

Rookie right-hander Chris Rodriguez, 22, didn’t look at all out of place in his major league debut Friday, retiring six of the nine batters he faced in a scoreless two-inning outing with three strikeouts and a sizzling maximum fastball velocity of 97.6.

Infielder Jose Rojas, 28, also made his big league debut, striking out in a pinch-hit at-bat in the bottom of the ninth.