Pat Listach knows a major-league pitcher when he sees one, and he thinks Andrew Heaney will be up with the Los Angeles Angels soon enough.
But the Tacoma Rainiers manager also thought his hitters hit the left-hander hard for the second time in six days, and had little to show for it.
Heaney went seven innings for Salt Lake, and got help from his batters after he departed as the Bees pulled out a 4-3 victory Tuesday at Cheney Stadium.
Salt Lake rallied for three runs in the eighth inning, capped by Jett Bandy’s three-run home run off Rainiers reliever Lucas Luetge.
What has been a steady strength for the Rainiers — the bullpen — has hit a rough patch the past two games. They surrendered five runs in the 9-7 win at Fresno on Monday, and did not lock it down for starting pitcher Sam Gaviglio on Tuesday.
Like Heaney, Gaviglio gave a solid effort, allowing one run — a Bandy solo shot — in six innings.
The Rainiers’ pitching staff has gone through reshuffling. With Mike Kickham designated for assignment last week, relievers Forrest Snow and Justin Germano are now in the rotation, at least for the time being.
Even with that, Listach said those moves should have had minimal impact on the bullpen’s workload.
“They are getting their rest,” said Listach, a shortstop in the majors for six seasons in the 1990s. “Luetge had three days off ... so they are not worn down. They have to make better pitches.”
Heaney (5-0), the Angels’ top prospect, faced this Tacoma lineup on the Rainiers’ recent road trip. He allowed two runs — one earned — and struck out 10 in a Bees’ 11-4 victory.
It was kind of the same result Tuesday. Ketel Marte had two sharp hits for a single and double in his first two at-bats. Stefen Romero and Jesus Montero both also hit long drives to center field, but were caught.
“In their ballpark, Montero’s is probably a home run,” Listach said. “... He had us chasing a little bit later.”
Tacoma took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on James Jones’ RBI groundout. After that, Heaney piled up strikeouts with good breaking pitches, finishing with nine in seven innings.
Rainiers catcher John Hicks hit a solo home run in the eighth inning. It was his third home run in the past four games. ... With stolen bases by Marte and Shawn O’Malley , the Rainiers have a Pacific Coast League-high 46 stolen bases in 33 games. Marte has a team-high 12 stolen bases this season.
Snow (1-2, 3.09 ERA) will stay in the Tacoma rotation for the time being, and the right-hander will start Wednesday’s game against Salt Lake. Right-hander Zach Stewart (1-2, 3.79) will start for the Bees. First pitch is 7:05 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on 850-AM.