Jose Suarez came into Tuesday night’s outing against the Seattle Mariners having pitched 17.1 consecutive scoreless innings. Thanks to a new changeup, he has become one of the Los Angeles Angels’ most reliable starters, and through five innings on Tuesday, he looked unhittable.
Suarez retired the Mariners first 16 batters, including five strikeouts in that span. He got over 50% of the way to a perfect game bid, but lost it with one out in the sixth inning when Adam Frazier reached via an infield single.
Sadly, Suarez wouldn’t record another out. Sam Haggerty and Julio Rodriguez singled in back-to-back at-bats to load the bases for Ty France. He singled to right field, scoring Frazier and Haggerty and moving Rodriguez to third, tying that ballgame at 2-2.
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin had seen enough, as he took Suarez out of the game and brought in Jimmy Herget, who would allow the runner from third to score before ending the inning.
Suarez was aware of the type of game he was having through five innings, but credited the Mariners for going and getting quality hits off of solid pitches, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I knew I was throwing a perfect game, but I wasn’t paying attention to that. I was focused on throwing my game,” Suarez said through an interpreter. “But that’s why they have a bat and are professional baseball players. They can hit. I can’t control that. That’s part of the game.”
All in all, Suarez still had a good outing. He tossed 5.1 innings, allowing three runs on four hits with five strikeouts and no walks. It was the first time Suarez allowed a run since July 16 against the L.A. Dodgers.
Nevin still had positive words for Suarez even as his scoreless streak came to an end at 22.2 innings.
“I thought he was really, really good,” interim manager Phil Nevin said. “He was obviously perfect through five, and the balls hit in the sixth weren’t hit that hard.”
Suarez’s changeup was still dominant, as it was the putout pitch in four of his five strikeouts. In his next start, he can lean back on that pitch to get into his rhythm and return to scoreless form.
In the past, Suarez has had a history of unraveling after a bad start or even one bad inning. With a spot in next season’s rotation on the line, he has to prove he can stay composed when a few hitters in a row are able to get on base.
Shohei Ohtani working on two-seamer
Just as Suarez incorporated a second changeup into his repertoire, Shohei Ohtani recently attempted to do the same with his two-seam fastball. He made a conscious effort in his start on Monday to use the two-seamer more frequently, and it led to a relatively strong start.
It remains to be seen if Ohtani or pitching coach Matt Wise want the two-seamer to be a regular part of his five-pitch arsenal moving forward, or if it was just an experiment for one start.