After terrible start, Yankees’ Andrew Heaney becomes unlikely hero

Heaney close up

Saturday’s effort by Andrew Heaney will never be confused for a traditional pitching masterpiece.

Considering where it was halfway through the second inning, though, it deserves some artistic consideration.

After that second frame finally ended — 40 pitches, three walks and a hit later — he had 59 pitches overall and four earned runs allowed

Aaron Boone wasn’t just thinking about his bullpen. He was thinking about saving it.

“I was thinking at some point Anthony Rizzo’s gonna be pitching at some time in this game, to be honest with you,” Boone said after the game.

Instead, Heaney pulled himself together and threw the next four innings scoreless. He finished with a final line of six innings, 109 pitches, four earned runs, three walks and nine Ks.

Thanks to a four-run sixth inning for the Yankees, he even got the win, which seemed as likely through two innings as the Yankees’ AL East odds did a month ago.

Most important, though: He saved a beat-up bullpen, which lost Aroldis Chapman on Saturday and survived an 11-inning game the night before.

“He made the adjustment,” Boone said. “He’s a hitter away from going out. Normally I wouldn’t even let him go that long in the second but obviously our situation today, we needed it. And he stepped up and settled into a rhythm and a groove. Really proud of that effort. That’s a tough effort.”

After Heaney got through six — and haggled to try and go out in the seventh (“I felt I had more in the tank,” he said) — Boone turned it over to Clay Holmes, Joely Rodríguez and Jonathan Loaisiga for a final scoreless three innings.

“It was pretty rocky, obviously,” Heaney said. “It was not how I wanted to start the game, but I’m just extremely glad to have — after putting us in a hole and not really giving us much of a chance early — to be able to come back and give our offense a chance there to do what they do, and they did.

“I’m proud of being able to do that.”


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