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    Angels’ José Suarez bounces back with 5 scoreless innings, victory
    • April 30, 2023

    MILWAUKEE — The Angels gave José Suarez another chance and he rewarded them for their confidence.

    The struggling left-hander pitched five scoreless innings in the Angels’ 3-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, a much-needed turnaround after he posted a 10.26 ERA in his first four starts.

    “I am very happy because I found myself,” Suarez said through an interpreter. “I feel I’m back. I was working on it and I feel I got it.”

    Even though it seemed Suarez’s last outing, when he gave up seven runs, might have been the final straw, manager Phil Nevin instead stuck with the 25-year-old. Nevin said they would evaluate him on a “start to start” basis.

    So far, so good.

    “Credit to him,” Nevin said. “It’s hard to take your lumps like that for several starts, and I know he hears everything. (Pitching coach Matt Wise) did a heck of a job with him this week. I was down there watching him. He made some adjustments with some things. I’m proud of him. He pitched his butt off today.”

    One of the adjustments was with his slider, which he threw harder this time. His slider was effective last year at around 82 mph, but this season he’d been throwing it about 84 mph, and he lost some movement. On Sunday, he was throwing it 87-88 mph, and it worked better.

    “I think it’s going to be a key because I executed it,” Suarez said.

    Mostly, though, Suarez relied heavily on the changeup that is normally his best offspeed pitch. He induced seven whiffs on 12 swings at his changeup, including one to strike out Blake Perkins, stranding two runners in the second inning.

    “I thought his changeup was great,” catcher Matt Thaiss said. “It led to a lot of key outs today. When he has conviction in that pitch along with his fastball he’s one of our best guys. It was great to see.”

    In the fourth, Suarez gave up a leadoff double to Brian Anderson but he stranded him. Anderson was at third with one out when Suarez picked up a key strikeout of Luke Voit, who looked at one of his harder sliders.

    The Brewers whiffed at 13 of Suarez’s pitches and took another 20 for called strikes. The called strikes and whiffs accounted for 43% of his 77 pitches, which was the highest percentage of his career.

    Suarez struck out six, including three in an eye-opening first inning, and he walked three. He allowed multiple baserunners in just one inning.

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    Although Suarez retired the final six hitters he faced in the fourth and fifth innings, Nevin was taking no chances. He had right-hander Chris Devenski warming up throughout the fifth, and he brought him in to start the sixth.

    Suarez faced just one hitter for a third time.

    Nevin had a fresh bullpen, with an off day on Monday, so was quick to yank Suarez after five, and the bullpen got the job done.

    Devenski, making his first appearance with the Angels, worked a perfect sixth. Chase Silseth faced the minimum in the seventh. Matt Moore and Carlos Estévez worked the final two innings, with Estévez picking up his sixth save in six tries this season.

    The pitching staff didn’t have much room for error because the only runs the Angels managed came on a Jake Lamb homer in the second, a Shohei Ohtani homer in the third and a Luis Rengifo RBI single in the seventh.

    Ohtani’s seventh homer of the season was a towering shot that peaked at 162 feet above the field, the highest ball he’s hit this season. It had a hang time of 6.98 seconds, the longest for any Angels homer since at least 2015, when tracking began.

    “We haven’t seen many like that,” Nevin said. “It’s special. We see something new with him each day.”

    ​ Orange County Register