Suarez's solid outing backed by two superstars
Trout homers, doubles twice and Ohtani adds pair of singles in series finale
MINNEAPOLIS -- Left-hander José Suarez turned it around after consecutive subpar outings with a strong start against the Twins and was backed by a familiar duo, as superstars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani both had big days at the plate.
Suarez debuted a new slider and allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings, Trout went 3-for-4 with a homer and two doubles, while Ohtani went 2-for-5 with an RBI single to help the Angels to a 10-3 win in the series finale Sunday at Target Field. Trout and Ohtani are both nearing milestones with nine games left, as Trout has 37 homers and Ohtani has 93 RBIs.
“We keep playing to win,” interim manager Phil Nevin said. “We’re playing to win baseball games, playing a winning brand. It’s not just about numbers. We talk about Sho getting to 100 and Mike getting 40 and guys getting whatever numbers, but we’re playing winning baseball. We’ve talked about it, and guys have bought into it and that’s what I’m proudest of.”
Trout’s impressive showing
Trout had three extra-base hits in a game for the 11th time in his career and for the second time this season. He crushed a double in the first inning off former teammate Dylan Bundy, as it left his bat at 107.7 mph. He came around to score after a single from Ohtani, as the Twins made an error on the throw home.
Trout added a solo shot in the third inning off Bundy for his team-leading 37th homer of the season. He jumped all over a 2-2 slider down in the zone and pulled it a Statcast-projected 416 feet into the second deck in left field.
“I’m just trying to finish strong,” Trout said. “We have nine games left and just trying to finish strong. Bundy just tries to keep you off balance. He threw me a couple sliders, and I was able to put good swings on them.”
Trout also walked in the fourth before adding his second double of the afternoon to help spark a five-run ninth. He smacked a 2-2 fastball from Trevor Megill to right field and scored on a single from Ohtani.
“Mike swung it really well today,” Nevin said. “He hit the home run, but going the other way for the double off the wall was a really good at-bat.”
Ohtani extends hitting streak to 11 games
With his single in the first inning, Ohtani matched his career best with an 11-game hitting streak. Ohtani has hit .350 with five doubles and five RBIs over that stretch, and has also posted a 1.50 ERA on the mound over that stretch as well.
Ohtani remains in a race with Yankees slugger Aaron Judge for the AL MVP Award and also remains a dark horse Cy Young Award candidate with two more starts remaining on the mound this year. He’s also at 93 RBIs and closing in on reaching 100 for the second straight year.
“He’s inching closer to 100,” Nevin said. “It’s what you’ve been seeing all year. He’s been taking good at-bats. He’s sniffing another milestone. I would imagine nobody has drove in 100 and done what [he’s] done on the mound. I’d love to see him get there.”
Suarez debuts new slider
Suarez had allowed a combined eight runs over his previous 10 1/3 innings, but he used a new slider grip to his advantage to get back on track against the Twins. He struck out six and improved to 7-8 with a 4.06 ERA in 21 outings (19 starts) this year. His final start is set to come Saturday against the Rangers.
His new slider averaged 84.8 mph, which was up four mph from his season average. He threw it 33 times compared to 38 four-seamers and registered eight whiffs with it.
“It’s a new grip that I have that I learned two days ago,” Suarez said through an interpreter. “It worked pretty well. Now I have two sliders. A slow one and a hard one. I throw this one like a fastball with the new grip.”
It was another encouraging sign from Suarez, who has posted a 3.52 ERA in his past 15 outings since June 18. He's continued to put himself in a good position for next year, although the next step will be pitching deeper into games.
“I want to see him continue to try to work through that third time through the order,” Nevin said. “It’s been a problem for him before, and he’s learning to understand what he did earlier in a game with hitters and change it up later, but really pitch to his own strengths. It was nice to see him get through the bulk of that group the third time."