Suárez rolls again as O's win series opener (Kjerstad to be recalled)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – After going 2,395 days between major league outings coming into this season, this time right-hander Albert Suárez had only a four-day wait.

He held Minnesota scoreless over 5 2/3 innings Wednesday in Baltimore – his first game in the majors since Sept. 26, 2017 – and was back out tonight for the O’s in their series opener in Los Angeles.

And he had another outstanding outing.

He also had another scoreless outing, again over 5 2/3 innings, as the Orioles beat the Angels 4-2 in front of 26,081 to start a three-game series.

The Orioles, who moved into first place in the American League East by a half-game over the Yankees, improved to 15-7 and to 6-2 in series-opening games. They are 7-1 their past eight games and 10-3 the last 13. 

This win was not secured without big drama as right-hander Craig Kimbrel fanned three-time MVP Mike Trout looking with the bases loaded to end it. 

Suárez allowed four hits with two walks and five strikeouts on 89 pitches and picked up his first major league win since June 23, 2016 for San Francisco at Pittsburgh. The O's have three scoreless starts, two by him and yesterday's outing at Kansas City by lefty Cole Irvin.

“A little bit of what he did last time for me," manager Brandon Hyde said of Suárez. "But I thought he made some nice adjustments in-game. Thought he and (James) McCann worked really well together, started throwing a lot more changeups and cutters. They couldn’t just sit fastball on him. Had a good fastball again and kind of established it early. But then, thought he did a great job mixing after first time through the order. Once again he gives us a great start.”

Early on, he still had some of his magic going from last week it seemed. He pitched around a one-out walk to Trout in the first and around a two-out single in the second.

In the Los Angeles third with a man on second and one down, he won a seven-pitch battle with Trout, fanning him on a down-and-in changeup. When Taylor Ward’s liner to right was caught, he had put up three more zeros to begin his second Baltimore outing.

He fanned two in a 1-2-3 fourth and stranded another runner in scoring position in the Los Angeles fifth. After Zach Neto’s two-out double, Suárez induced leadoff batter Nolan Schanuel to ground out on a changeup.

He was rolling. Again.

He even fielded his position well, catching a hot smash back at him in the sixth and doubling up Trout off first. 

Now over two O’s starts, Suárez is 1-0 with an ERA of 0.00. In 11 1/3 innings, he’s allowed seven hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.

His fastball averaged 95.9 mph in his last start, and tonight averaged 94.2 and topped at 96.0. He got eight whiffs on 21 swings against the pitch and had 16 whiffs in 43 swings overall on the night.

The Orioles backed Suárez with a couple of early runs. They took a 1-0 lead in the second on a McCann solo homer and made it 2-0 an inning later on Adley Rutschman’s RBI single.

Angels lefty Reid Detmers entered tonight having not allowed a homer this year and not having allowed one to the last 156 batters he faced as a starter. He ran that to 162 before McCann tucked a 1-1 fastball around the left-field foul pole. It was No. 1 of the year for McCann, hit 377 feet and his first homer last since last Sept. 9 at Boston.

Jorge Mateo, batting ninth, led off the Baltimore third inning with a six-pitch walk and then stole second and third base. He scored on Rutschman’s groundball single for his 13th RBI and a 2-0 edge.

Rutschman's RBI double with two outs in the fifth scored Gunnar Henderson, who had singled. Colton Cowser hit another homer – a solo shot in the seventh for a 4-0 lead. It was No. 6 for Cowser and his second off a lefty.

The Orioles lead the majors with 35 home runs and have hit 25 over their past 11 games. 

Detmers went seven, allowing six hits and four runs on 99 pitches and took the loss. He is now 3-1 with an ERA of 2.12.

Right-hander Mike Baumann got the last out of the sixth, but allowed a solo homer to Jo Adell and another run was charged to his line after he left when Schanuel singled against Yennier Cano. But Cano got five big outs over the seventh and eighth innings, and Jacob Webb got the last out of the eighth.

Kimbrel picked up his sixth save of the year and No. 423 of his career when he pitched a scoreless ninth. He moved past Billy Wager for sole possession of seventh on the all-time saves list. 

But this save was drenched in drama as he fanned Trout looking with the bases loaded to end it on a 94.5 mph fastball. The Angels loaded the bases on a hit by pitch, bloop single and a walk around the first out. Then Kimbrel got Schanuel to pop out before fanning Trout.

He stared down the three-time MVP and with the count 1-1 got him to look at two fastballs. The first was 93.3 mph to make it a 1-2 count and the game ended on another fastball as Kimbrel stayed at the top of the strike zone to get a player who began today with a .992 career OPS.

“Well yeah, he’s a guy that absolutely destroys anything at the bottom of the zone, so you know on top of the zone has always been the game plan going against him. And we stayed there tonight," Kimbrel said.

Rutschman was not catching, he served as the DH, but watched the Kimbrel-Trout battle from the dugout.

“That’s a pretty cool moment," Rutschman said. "I’m sitting there in the dugout with (Ryan) O’Hearn and we’re like, ‘Well, I guess this is what the people came for right here.’ Cool moment to see, great guy. Fortunate to watch him do his thing every night.”

Tonight was the 10,000th regular season game in Angels history. The Angels' first game in franchise history also came against Baltimore on April 11, 1961 at Memorial Stadium.

Kjerstad is coming: The Baltimore Sun first reported tonight that the Orioles plan to recall Triple-A outfielder Heston Kjerstad on Tuesday. Before tonight’s game, the O’s put Austin Hays on the injured list. Ryan Mountcastle also missed the game with knee soreness but was active.

In 21 games with Norfolk, Kjerstad has torn up Triple-A pitching. He is batting .349/.431/.744/1.175 with four doubles and leads Triple-A with 10 homers and 30 RBIs.

Kjerstad is ranked as the No. 29 prospect in the top 100 and is rated No. 42 by Baseball America.

He hit .233 in 13 games in his big league debut last September and then was on the O’s American League Division Series roster for the series with the Rangers.

A little more on Hays' injury
O's game blog: The series opener in Anaheim

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