In Wednesday’s disappointing 9-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers, Angels rookie starter Jose Suarez fought changeup command like he never had before.
He threw his signature pitch 27 times and hardly got bites. One batter swung through it, four others fouled it off. The offering was called a ball 15 times.
“I’ve never really not had my changeup like that,” he said in Spanish. “But today it didn’t work and I felt uncomfortable.”
The problem derailed Suarez’s outing. After getting through two scoreless innings with minimal issue, he stalled in the third. A leadoff homer and an RBI single put the Angels in an early 2-0 hole they could not climb out of as Detroit’s pitchers held them to only five hits.
Suarez loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, and was replaced by Trevor Cahill. Two more runs scored on another single, but Cahill prevented Suarez’s line being further damaged.
Suarez fell back on his mid-70s curveball. The breaking pitch, which he’s worked to establish since signing with the Angels as a teenager in 2014, netted him six of his 12 called strikes. It wasn’t enough to get him through five innings.
“I have to attack the strike zone,” he said. “Today I was out of control. I didn’t feel good, didn’t feel 100%. Tried to fight and keep competing. I just gotta keep working.”
Suarez was not able to complete five innings in any of his five starts this month. He lasted 4 1/3 innings in his third consecutive outing, underscoring the ineffectiveness of the starting rotation. The Angels failed to address that weakness at the trade deadline, choosing instead to rely on their pitchers to improve.
“We gotta throw strikes, we gotta be able to throw off speed for strikes in the zone,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “If you can’t do that, you’re gonna have trouble at the major league level getting hitters out.”
Mike Trout provided the Angels’ only offense when he launched a towering home run 405 feet to center field in the sixth inning. The blast, which reached a remarkable height of 159 feet, was Trout’s 13th of the month. It set a franchise record for July and he became the first major leaguer with 13 homers in July since Hideki Matsui in 2007. As the calendar turns to August, Trout leads the American League with 35 home runs and 86 RBIs. . . . Reliever Luis Garcia gave up five runs in the eighth inning. It was his worst outing in a rocky debut season with the Angels. The 32-year-old has given up eight earned runs in his last 5 1/3 innings.