ANAHEIM — Some days you just tip your cap.
Tuesday was one of those days as the Royals fell victim to what was the best start of left-hander Andrew Heaney’s career. Heaney, on his 27th birthday, pitched a one-hit shutout in a 1-0 Angels victory at Angel Stadium.
That lone hit came by Hunter Dozier, a solid single to left with one out in the fifth inning.
“He was really good,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of Heaney. “Sneaky, sneaky fastball. Got it up to 94 [mph] in the eighth inning. Mixed in some good changeups, curveballs. We just couldn’t center his fastball.”
Heaney walked one and struck out four.
Royals right-hander Brad Keller, in his second Major League start and certainly a part of the rotation going forward, was stretched out to 75 pitches. He worked 4 1/3 innings and gave up five hits, all singles. Two of the singles were infield hits.
Keller, who touched 97 mph early on, gave up one run while walking one and striking out three. He’ll likely be extended to 90 pitches next time out.
“I felt really good today,” Keller said. “Balls found holes. That’s part of it. My sinker was working really well and I was trying to work it in on their hands, get them to beat it into the ground. That’s what they did. Just found holes.”
The Angels’ run was somewhat tainted. With one out in the fifth, Chris Young and Michael Hermosillo grounded singles through the infield. Right-hander Kevin McCarthy took over for Keller and a flyout to right by Ian Kinsler moved Young to third.
The Angels then started a double steal. Perez threw through to second base, but by the time second baseman Whit Merrifield caught the ball, Young had nearly reached home and Hermosillo had stopped half way. With no other play, Merrifield ran down Hermosillo, but not till after the run scored.
“Obviously you don’t want them to score,” Yost said. “Salvy made a great quick throw, but the ball had a little tail on it and took Whit’s momentum toward first base and by then Young was gone. Nothing you can do.
“You can arm-fake it and let the runner get to second and take a chance on them scoring two. But you got one of the best throwing catchers in baseball. If the second baseman can read the throw and come up and catch it and throw it to home plate, it can work. It was a good play by them.”
Another right-hander, Trevor Oaks, who like Keller should be a part of the Royals’ future rotation, delivered his best outing in the big leagues, throwing three shutout innings while walking none and striking out three.
“It was a lot better than the first two [outings],” Oaks said. “[Pitching coach] Cal [Eldred] pulled me aside last week and just talked about how I need to drive a little bit more off my back leg. That kind of seemed to fix some other issues, too. The first two outings I had, I just kind of had some trouble with timing. Now I’m sinking back a little bit more, trying to drive off my back leg, and that seemed to help me get out in front.”