The Los Angeles Angels took the series opener from the Oakland Athletics with a 1-0 victory thanks to the play of Luis Rengifo and José Suarez.
The Angels starter pitched seven shutout innings while giving up just two hits and two walks. Suarez also struck out eight and earned his fourth win of the season.
Rengifo opened the scoring in the first inning with a solo home run off Athletics’ starter Cole Irvin and that was all either team was able to manufacture.
Both Suarez and Rengifo were born in Naguanagua, Venezuela a year apart and began playing together when they were about five or six years old, according to Rengifo. So those two combining to lead the Angels to a win was a special moment for both of them, via Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
Even though the Angels would certainly have preferred more runs, there was a nice storyline to Rengifo providing the only run on a night that Suarez pitched.
“He is like my brother,” Suarez said. “We grew up together. It feels great when he hits well and I pitch well and we win.”
The Angels originally signed Suarez as an international free agent in 2014 to a Minor League contract. During that same year, Rengifo signed with the Seattle Mariners before he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017.
Rengifo was then acquired by the Angels in a trade with the Rays prior to the 2018 season. He ended up making his Major League debut in April 2019, a little more than a month before Suarez made his debut.
Suarez using new changeup
Up until the All-Star Break, Suarez was scuffling. When the break came, Suarez had a 5.60 ERA and had allowed 49 hits in 45.0 innings. But Suarez used that time away to learn a new pitch, a secondary changeup to add to his fastball, slider, and primary changeup.
Very rarely does one new pitch completely change a pitcher’s outlook. But Suarez has been a different pitcher since he added his second changeup, and has quickly become a reliable starter for the Angels.
In three starts since debuting the new pitch, Suarez has tossed 17.1 innings and has allowed zero earned runs (one unearned — to pair with a 0.853 WHIP and a 16 to 5 K-to-BB ratio. For lack of a better term, Suarez has been dominant.