What they're saying about Albert Suárez and Orioles' walk-off win over Twins - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

What they’re saying about Albert Suárez and Orioles’ walk-off win over Twins

Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer USA TODAY

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BALTIMORE—What happened? While the week belonged to Cedric Mullins, Wednesday was Albert Suárez’s day.

Mullins made a sensational catch and hit a home run in Monday night’s win over the Minnesota Twins and followed it with a two-run, ninth-inning home run to propel the Orioles to their fourth straight win, 4-2, on Wednesday.

But the story of Wednesday’s game was Suárez. In his first major league game since September 26th, 2017, the 34-year-old right-hander pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings, allowing just three hits. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter, throwing 75 pitches.

He reported to the Orioles that morning after finding out late Tuesday night that he was the replacement starter for Tyler Wells, who was placed on the injured list because of right elbow inflammation.

“It’s good to be back in the league, and do a good job,” Suárez said. “I was just focused on attacking the hitter, and that went well. That’s what got me good results.” His four-seam fastball was hitting 96-97 mph consistently, and the Twins had trouble catching up to it.

Suárez pitched well at times in spring training and caught the Orioles’ attention with his ability to strike out hitters. He pitched for five seasons in Japan and South Korea before signing with the Orioles last September and standing out in Sarasota.

“That’s an amazing sign right there. It helped us win a major league baseball game,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “To go out and find someone like that … He did more than we asked him to do.”

Before the game, Hyde said that the Orioles chose Suárez because Minnesota was a predominantly right-handed hitting team.

“He just throws a ton of strikes,” Hyde said. “Aggressive with his fastball that’s got a ton of life. He’s got confidence in his other pitches, also. He just knows how to pitch.

“I know he’s very thankful to be back in the big leagues. We saw in spring training how mature he is … He was appreciative of the opportunity. To go out and get a call that you’re starting for the big league team tomorrow, it’s just a really cool story.”

Hyde said that Suárez would  get more starts.

What’s the story on Suárez? The Orioles’ director of pro scouting, Mike Snyder, signed Suárez. He was one of the few veterans in spring training.

“I worked hard for it, and when you work hard, you have faith that something will happen,” Suárez said.

Suárez hadn’t started in so long that he was almost like a rookie.

“I think I enjoyed this moment more than the first time I got called up,” Suárez said. “It’s amazing for me, a good feeling to be here.”

The Orioles worked with Suárez last fall after they signed him, and it’s paid off.

“I made some adjustments on my delivery, on my fastball, and it’s been helping me a lot,” Suárez said.

Mullins was glad to share the spotlight with Suárez.

“He was nothing short of amazing,” Mullins said. “He came out and took care of his business. He was very professional. It takes a lot of perseverance. It takes a lot of commitment and dedication to do what he did today. It was a great start, loved what I saw. I want to see more.”

What kind of a series was it for Mullins? On Monday, Mullins made his highlight-reel catch on Kyle Farmer’s line drive in the first inning and hit a homer in the fourth. Two days later, he hit his first game-winning home run.

Ryan Mountcastle singled with one out in the ninth, and Mullins homered onto the flag court in right field on a 1-2 pitch.

“Super cool. It’s definitely something that’s hard to accomplish,” Mullins said. “Mounty got us going with a single. I was trying to follow it up with another single. I was able to get a pitch that I could handle, and I put it over.”

“This is Cedric Mullins,” Hyde said. “He drives runs in. He causes chaos on the bases, plays a Gold Glove center field. He’s just a huge igniter for our offense, and awesome to see him get that home run tonight.”

Mullins has always been even-keeled, and he was after he got a hero’s welcome at home plate.

“It was a pretty complete series there,” he said. “Especially to come out with a sweep. It was a big plus for us.”

What happened to John Means and in the minor leagues? John Means retired only one batter and allowed five runs on five hits, throwing 34 pitches for Triple-A Norfolk. It was Means’ fourth rehab start for the Tides. He’s on the 15-day injured list with a strained forearm.

Seth Johnson, Keagan Gillies and Carlos Tavera combined on a five-hit shutout as Double-A Bowie beat Altoona, 5-0.

Johnson allowed four hits in four innings. Gillies gave up a hit in his inning, and Tavera pitched four hitless innings.

First baseman TT Bowens, second baseman Billy Cook and shortstop Frederick Bencosme each homered.

Single-A Delmarva lost for the 10th time in 11 games, 4-3 in 10 innings to Down East.

What’s the word? “I got here a little late, but I still got my eight hours of sleep. I was ready for today.”-Suárez on traveling to Baltimore from Jacksonville, where Norfolk was playing.

What does it mean? The Orioles go on the road with a 12-6 record and looking like a very strong club. Getting an unexpected contribution from Suárez is important, and they’ll need other pick-me-ups during the season.

What’s the stat of the day? 5. The Orioles have hit at least three home runs in five straight games for the first time since August 6th-10th, 1996. The club record is six straight, which was accomplished from May 8th-13th, 1987.

What’s next? After a day off on Thursday, the Orioles will begin a six-game road trip with a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals. Dean Kremer (0-1, 4.96) will face Alec Marsh (2-0, 4.32) on Friday night at 7:30.

The Orioles also will play three games at the Los Angeles Angels before returning on April 26th to play the Oakland Athletics.

Call for questions: Each weekday, I’ll be answering at least one Orioles’ question. Please send yours to: [email protected]

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