SAN FRANCISCO – Rangers manager Bruce Bochy has always been known for his management of the pitching staff long before he arrived in Texas.
And while his handling in Saturday night’s game against the Giants wasn’t exactly planned, it still worked.
Bochy declared Texas starter Andrew Heaney had a bit of a cold earlier this week in Oakland and was unable to complete his bullpen. Bochy and pitching coach Mike Maddux knew that Heaney’s stamina resulting from that bug might not have pushed him deep into the game.
Instead, the Rangers’ bullpen and offense led them to a 9-3 victory against the Giants at Oracle Park to secure a series victory and a winning Bay Area road trip.
Bochy quickly recognized that Heaney didn’t have it and gave him the quick hook after just 1 1/3 rounds. The left-hander faced nine batters, allowed three hits and walked two, finally ending his scoreless streak at a career-high 15 2/3 innings by allowing one run in the first inning.
He then handed it over to right-hander Grant Anderson and the bullpen for the remainder of the evening.
“When Mike and I talked about it, (Heaney) couldn’t pick up a pen and he was pretty devastated,” Bochy said. “So we were a little worried about him going into tonight’s game, and watching him we knew he wasn’t quite himself. He was fighting there. He got a big strikeout, but where they were in the order, we had Anderson ready. We went ahead and made this decision.
Anderson entered the game for Heaney with the bases loaded and one out in the second inning and quickly induced a 3-6-1 double play to escape the jam. The rookie pitched 2 2/3 innings and allowed just one run – a Michael Conforto homer – to keep the Giants at bay.
Anderson said he and all the right-hand men in the bullpen knew that if Heaney was pulled early, they would be the first to get up. He got the call and took full advantage of it.
Bochy noted that even though it was only the second inning, it was a tie game at that point, so Anderson’s double play might have prevented Texas from letting the match getting out of hand.
“This kid, he has no fear,” Bochy said of Anderson’s intervention. “He wants to be there. He has a very good manner about him. He showed it the first time I brought him to Detroit (in his MLB debut). He showed that you know it, while he’s here. He just looks a little different with the sidearm, and with the way they were stacked, it was a good matchup for him tonight.
Anderson and a trio of relievers behind him, Chris Stratton, Josh Sborz and Brock Burke, combined for 7 2/3 innings, while allowing just two runs of their own. For a group that has struggled for much of the season, it was a quality night for an unplanned day in the bullpen.
“I just didn’t throw well, you know what I mean?” » said Heaney. “I knew I had a short leash and I put us in a situation early on where Boch had to go to the bullpen. I’m not happy with how it started, but obviously Grant, Strat, Sborz and Burke did a great job coming in, getting the job done and finishing the game. Again, not happy with the way I started the game, but obviously very happy that these guys got me and the hitters did what they did and we got the win .
While the bullpen stole the show, the Rangers offense exploded for nine runs on 16 hits against Giants pitchers. Texas had multi-hit nights from six hitters, including utilityman Ezequiel Duran, who was one home run away from the cycle.
All of this propelled Texas to its 70th win of the season, making it the fastest season in franchise history to reach that mark.
“It was a team win all around,” Anderson said. “I came to get Andrew and picked him up. Strat came after me and picked me up, and the offense did that all night, that’s what they’ve done all year. That’s what makes a good team a good team, when everyone plays their role and everyone progresses in the game and gets the victory.