'He was outstanding': Suarez tosses 1st CG

September 5th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- It was easily the best start of José Suarez's career.

Suarez had never pitched deeper than 5 2/3 innings in any of his 26 career starts, but he topped that with a complete game against the Rangers in a 4-1 win on Saturday at Angel Stadium. Suarez needed exactly 100 pitches to get 27 outs, allowing just one run on five hits with eight strikeouts and no walks. He became the first Angels pitcher to throw a complete game since Dylan Bundy on Aug. 6, 2020, against the Mariners.

“He attacked with strikes all day, which is something he had not been doing,” Angels manager Joe Madon said. “That's what had prevented him from going deep into the game. But he was outstanding. And any time a young man throws a complete game, I'm always interested in their next start and what it does to them."

It was another positive showing from the 23-year-old, who has bounced back this year after struggling as a rookie in 2019 and in the shortened season in 2020. Suarez improved to 6-7 with a 3.74 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 77 innings -- he had a 7.11 ERA in 81 innings in 2019 and an inflated 38.57 ERA in 2 1/3 innings last year.

"I've been trying to focus on getting out there and trying to attack the hitters," Suarez said through an interpreter. "I'm trying to be a little more aggressive."

Suarez mostly relied on his four-seamer and changeup against the Rangers, getting eight swings and misses with the fastball and five with the change. He was also perfect through three innings before giving up his first hit to Leody Taveras, who doubled to lead off the fourth. Suarez received some insurance with Shohei Ohtani’s three-run homer in the sixth, as Maddon said it gave the lefty enough breathing room to finish the game.

“It gives me extreme confidence when my changeup is working that well,” Suarez said. “It gives me confidence with my other pitches, and I can use any pitch in different counts.”

Suarez went back out for the ninth at 87 pitches and attempted to throw the club’s first shutout since Andrew Heaney in 2018. He gave up a leadoff single to Taveras, as second baseman David Fletcher made a great play but first baseman Jared Walsh couldn't handle the throw to first. Taveras then reached second on a wild pitch, went to third on a fly ball to center from Isiah Kiner-Falefa and scored on an RBI groundout from Adolis García. Suarez then recovered by getting DJ Peters to ground out to end the game.

"He's got the stuff and the makeup to be really good,” Maddon said. “Hopefully that kind of performance will stick. Getting the last out of a game matters. Complete games matter. It makes them better players and better pitchers."