Over six years later, Albert Suarez was back in the bigs, pitching the Orioles to a win

It has been an eventful home season for the Orioles. They began it by scoring 11 and 13 runs their first two games this year at the Yard. They had two walk-off wins at Camden Yards heading into yesterday’s game.

Now Oriole Park is home of the mound where 34-year-old right-hander Albert Suárez returned to the big leagues. He was last in the majors in 2017 with San Francisco and yesterday made his first big league appearance in 2,395 days.

Yes, it had been a minute, if over six years is that.

This game was special for Suárez, who spent time the last five seasons pitching in Japan and Korea. The Orioles signed him last Oct. 12 and he would get another shot to once again make a big league roster.

He had some impressive moments for the club in spring training and showed velocity he didn’t show with the Giants in 2016, when his fastball averaged 92.0 mph and a year later when it was at 93.5.

And while the Orioles are a combined 8-0 in Corbin Burnes and Grayson Rodriguez starts, Suárez did something yesterday no O’s pitcher had done yet this year. He produced a scoreless start.

He pitched 5 2/3 innings allowing no runs and three hits and this time his fastball averaged 95.9 mph and topped at 97.8. And with big and late movement as well.

Suárez explained to reporters during spring training that it seemed to be a combination of tapping into the O’s analytics department and the club’s pitching coaches that provided him what he called small adjustments which have him throwing harder than ever.

He worked with some coaches for a couple of weeks last fall in Sarasota after he signed with the club.

That was the origin of the adjustments which got him back to the big leagues over six years later.

“I was focused more looking at the metrics to see what my pitches do when I release the ball. I was able to know myself better and it helped me get better force to home plate,” he explained after yesterday’s outing.

So what helped him get more force toward the batter?

“Everything, like the weight room, my delivery, the grip on the ball. Everything stays in place and if I stay like that, I’m going to have good results,” he said.

The tweaks and adjustments didn’t take hold instantly, but they were not hard to make, he said.

“I’ve been in the game for a while, so it’s not too big of an adjustment. It was just little things and I worked hard to get those little things the way I need to and that has made a difference.”

Cedric Mullins’ two-run homer gave the O’s the 4-2 walk-off win, but Mullins gave a lot of the credit for the win to Suarez.

"He was nothing short of amazing," Mullins said. "He came out there and handled his business very professional. I love what I saw.

"It takes a lot of perseverance, it takes a lot of commitment, dedication to do what he did today."

Manager Brandon Hyde gave the front office props after the win.

"I just want to give credit to our pro scouting department, front office," Hyde said. "That's an amazing sign right there. Helped us win a major league baseball game and looks outstanding. To go out and find someone like that who's (34) and hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2017 and have that kind of performance. Did more than we asked him to do. Think he threw 4 1/3 his last time out and he goes out and gets into the sixth inning against a major league baseball team, just a credit to everybody there, especially him."

And Suárez showed big poise Wednesday against Minnesota. Had to handle his nerves after returning to the big leagues after such a long time.

“So happy. The nerves, they are always there. Just breathing,” he said, making it sound simple and easy anyway.

What a story and what a day for Suárez. Friday night he gave up five runs in Triple-A where his ERA was 5.87 with Norfolk. Yesterday he showed off his new velocity and the Twins couldn’t get anything going against him as he helped the O’s produce their second three-game sweep of the year.

More notes on the O’s win:

The Orioles are on a remarkable run of hitting homers. They have hit at least three in each of their past five games for the first time since Aug. 6‐10, 1996. They are now one game shy of tying the club record of six straight games with three‐or‐more homers from May 8‐13, 1987.

The O’s hit nine homers in the Twins series, have 15 the last five games, 20 in the last seven and have 30 homers on the year. As yesterday’s game ended, no big league team had more than the 26 by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Orioles have hit two or more homers 10 times on the season, and they are 9-1 in those games.

* Suárez and the pitchers held Minnesota to two runs on five hits with nine strikeouts. O’s pitchers have now allowed four runs or less 14 times in 18 games and they are 11-3 in those games.

* The Orioles are now 12-6 overall and have won four in a row, outscoring their opponents 28-13. They are 7-2 their past nine games, and their offense has scored 57 runs in the nine games.

* Mullins hit his first career walk-off homer and it was the O’s second this year. Jordan Westburg hit one April 1 versus Kansas City. Mullins’ homer extended his hitting streak to nine games. He is 11-for-30 during this run batting .387 with an OPS of 1.129 with three homers, nine runs and eight RBIs.

* Gunnar Henderson has homered once each in the last three games and has hit four homers his last seven games. During a five-game hitting streak, he is 10-for-21 with seven RBIs.    


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