ANAHEIM -- After his last start against the Rangers on Wednesday, Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney vowed to go back to the drawing board. He had allowed nine runs over 10 innings in his first two outings since returning from Tommy John surgery, results the Angels knew were not indicative of his true talent level.
So in between starts, Heaney centered his bullpen session around trying to find the feel for his breaking ball, which he had struggled to command in his first two Major League starts this year. His efforts paid off on Monday night, when he struck out a career-high 10 over six innings in the Angels' 3-1 series-opening win over the A's.
"That's what Andrew can do," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's good for us to see it."
Heaney allowed just one run on two hits with three walks in his best start of the season. The lone blemish came in the third, when he surrendered a leadoff home run to A's catcher Dustin Garneau.
"There's definitely some relief of pressure, for sure," Heaney said. "To have a night like tonight definitely feels good to kind of get things rolling a little bit."
Heaney opened the game by striking out the side, wielding a sharp breaking ball that complemented his fastball and changeup.
"Tonight I felt more comfortable with it," Heaney said. "It felt like I had three pitches. It wasn't flip of a coin. It wasn't something where I felt like I was kind of painted into a corner. I had options. I had different pitches. I felt like I was out there working with six or seven different things I could do. And some of the swings they took let me know that they were also thinking the same way."
In the fifth, Heaney retired the first two batters he faced before issuing back-to-back walks to Garneau and Marcus Semien. Heaney then uncorked his second wild pitch of the inning during Chad Pinder's at-bat, allowing the runners to advance to second and third. Still, Heaney escaped the jam by striking out Pinder swinging on a breaking ball to end the inning and preserve the Angels' 2-1 lead.
Heaney then capped his outing by striking out the side for the second time in the sixth. On his third-to-last pitch of the night, he pumped a 96.2-mph fastball to Ryon Healy, marking the hardest pitch he's ever thrown in the Majors.
"I tried to throw that thing like a thousand. I almost fell over trying to throw it," Heaney said, laughing. "For me, being able to end it that way gives me a lot of confidence going into my next start."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.