OAKLAND -- A pitcher's final line can tell a story, but seldom can it tell the whole story. As was the case with José Suarez's latest outing, one in which the numbers alone don't fully capture how well he pitched.
Suarez allowed four earned runs across 5 2/3 innings in the Angels' 6-0 loss to the A's on Tuesday at Oakland Coliseum, one out and one less run short of a quality start. Look under the microscope, however, and Suarez pitched just about as well as Los Angeles could've asked.
"I thought he was really good," said manager Joe Maddon. "That's another really good start to build off of."
Suarez couldn't have pitched any better to begin the game. Through three innings, the left-hander was perfect. He retired the first 11 batters he faced to start the game before allowing a towering solo shot to Matt Olson with two outs in the fourth inning. Suarez attributed the early success to being loose in between innings, talking to teammates to keep his mind free.
The sixth inning is where Suarez's final pitching line took the big hit, devolving from excellent to merely OK.
The A's loaded the bases with one out off Suarez by way of a Jacob Wilson single (the first hit of his career), Mark Canha getting plunked, Elvis Andrus' sacrifice bunt and Olson being intentionally walked. Suarez got Jed Lowrie to fly out to right field, driving in Tony Kemp, who was pinch-running for Wilson, and with that, Suarez's afternoon was done.
Mike Mayers inherited runners at the corners with two outs and allowed a double off the wall to Ramón Laureano. Based on the carom the ball took off the wall, only Canha should've scored with Olson holding up at third base. Instead, left fielder Taylor Ward fired a weak throw behind Canha to second base, allowing Olson to score easily. Maddon said the throw was misplaced. Suarez footed the bill for both runs.
"I felt good about Mayers coming in and getting Laureano," Maddon said of the decision to take out Suarez. "In my mind's eye, he's going to go all the way around at least another full inning, then you pass the baton, but it just didn't play that way."
Not much went the bullpen's way overall in this brief two-game series. Across 4 1/3 innings, Angels relievers allowed six earned runs, including all four runs that Los Angeles surrendered on Monday. Maddon didn't sugarcoat the performance.
"We have to do better out of the bullpen," Maddon said. "No question about it."
The same could've been said about the Angels' offense, which mustered one run across these two games. Los Angeles had numerous chances on Tuesday, but it went hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position.
There were also reasons for frustration aside from just the team's play. Maddon was ejected prior to the bottom of the eighth inning, getting into a heated discussion with home-plate umpire Bill Miller. Regarding what caused the fracas, Maddon said that Miller "said something to one of my guys that I didn't like and he needed to hear about it."
It was a bitter end to an afternoon that had begun on such a strong note, but the Angels will have Suarez's strong start to lean on as a net positive.
By going 5 2/3 innings, Suarez tied the longest outing of his Major League career, a mark he hit twice in 2019. In his past two outings, Suarez has allowed five runs across 10 2/3 innings, production that the Halos will certainly take from someone who just jumped back into the starting rotation.
Maddon said that Suarez's biggest year-to-year difference has been in his ability to slow the game down. Last season, Suarez had a tendency to rush, whereas this season he has been more willing to take a step back and catch his breath, which has helped lead to more consistency.
"He's showing you why you can consider him a Major League starter," Maddon said. "He's going to gain more confidence as you continue to move forward."