Suarez overcomes slow start, but falls to Jays

Left-hander allows 4 runs in 5 1/3 innings as Halos split doubleheader

August 11th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- The opening inning of José Suarez’s start in Game 2 of Tuesday’s split doubleheader had the makings of a short outing.

The Angels left-hander threw 28 pitches, gave up three hits and a walk and allowed two runs, before inducing a double play to strand two Blue Jays baserunners and get out of the first.

The next four innings were a different story for the 23-year-old Suarez, as he retired 12 of the next 14 batters and kept Toronto scoreless over that span. He ended up going 5 1/3 innings in the 4-0 loss at Angel Stadium, as the Halos split the twin bill after winning Game 1, 6-3.

Although Suarez bounced back from the tough start, his night ended after allowing two straight one-out singles in the sixth. Both runners later scored, so Suarez was charged with four runs allowed.

“The first inning was something that sometimes happens,” Suarez said in Spanish. “I can’t control it. I try to control throwing strikes and control what I can control. I tried to not think about it and kept on working.”

Immediately following his tough first, Suarez settled down. He needed only seven pitches to retire the Blue Jays in order in the second, then had another 1-2-3 inning in the third. Suarez allowed a single in both the fourth and fifth, but he stranded the runner at first each time, which included closing out the fifth with back-to-back strikeouts of George Springer and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Angels manager Joe Maddon said Suarez’s mound composure and the use of his breaking ball helped him settle in.

“It was all poise and curveball,” Maddon said. “He used his curveball tonight, and that's what really permitted him to settle in. It got them off the fastball-changeup thing, and now they had another pitch to worry about. And that's to me the difference with him moving forward. I'd love to see the curveball become a permanent pitch for him, part of the mix. ... It’s really good against right-handed hitters also. You saw the strikeout with Guerrero at the end there.”

After Suarez was replaced by José Quijada in the sixth, Toronto added to its lead on a two-run single by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. only two batters into Quijada's appearance. Meanwhile, the Angels mustered only three hits against four Blue Jays pitchers.

Suarez's start came shortly after a sharp outing from another young Angels hurler. In Game 1, rookie Chris Rodriguez tossed four innings of one-run ball in the Halos' win, a start that ended with him getting Springer to ground into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.

Maddon said one takeaway from the outings by the pair of young pitchers was their composure in working out of tough spots.

“Obviously, they both pitched well, and I just like the poise on the mound,” Maddon said. “Chris getting out of some trouble. I'm certain you can even see it with Suarez from a distance how he's pretty much in control of his emotions. There's some times that he'll get a little bit quick. Things will speed up for him, but just send [pitching coach Matt Wise] out there and all of a sudden, he comes back to Earth.

“I like his way a lot. As he grows mentally as a pitcher and understands everything at his disposal, he's going to do that often against good teams. It doesn't matter if they have righties. It doesn't matter. That curveball absolutely can be the pitch that mitigates or gets them off the changeup, and I love that. I thought he did really well.”