Peter Schmuck: Suarez delivers his best performance of the season and Orioles barely avoid a bullpen blowup in 2-1 win over Rangers -
Peter Schmuck

Peter Schmuck: Suarez delivers his best performance of the season and Orioles barely avoid a bullpen blowup in 2-1 win over Rangers

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


Veteran right-hander Albert Suarez bounced back from a pair of shaky starts to deliver a very strong six innings against the Texas Rangers on Friday night at Oriole Park, but the bullpen kept everyone in suspense until closer Craig Kimbrel nailed down a 2-1 victory with his 435th career save.

It certainly didn’t look like everything would turn out that way after All-Star reliever Yennier Cano inherited a two-run lead in the seventh inning and proceeded to throw just one strike with his first 11 pitches. He walked two batters and allowed a one-out single to load the bases before giving way to Jacob Webb, who walked in a run before getting out of the inning.

Left-hander Cionel Perez pitched a scoreless eighth, but not before creating some more drama with a pair of walks. Kimbrel struck out the first two batters he faced in the ninth and got outfielder Leody Taveras to ground out to first for save No. 18 this season.


Manager Brandon Hyde gushed about the performance of Saurez, who walked five batters in a June 18th loss to the Yankees and gave up 10 hits and three walks in five innings against the Astros last weekend, but pointed out that the Orioles didn’t have any right to expect a favorable outcome after the bullpen spun out of control.

“We got lucky a little bit,’’ he said. “You can’t walk five guys against a team like that and have a two-run lead and expect to win. I think we escaped one there.”

The victory was the third in a row for the O’s as they continue to bounce back from their season-long five-game losing streak and it came against future Hall of Fame starter Max Scherzer. He was making only his second start of the year after returning from back surgery and pitched well again, but the Orioles scored a run in the fourth on Colton Cowser’s 12th homer of the season and added another on an RBI single by Gunnar Henderson.

Suarez gave up three hits and did not walk a batter over six innings to improve his record to 4-2 and drop his earned-run average to 2.43. Though he has bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen, it was the fourth start in which he has pitched five or more shutout innings and allowed four or fewer hits.

“He had the life to his fastball that he had the first few outings with us, threw a lot of 95s, 96s. Some good changeups, also, and the cutter has a little more sweep to it. Really efficient for six innings and more than we could ask for … The fastball had some jump to it tonight, and I hadn’t seen the consistent life to it that I saw tonight.”

Kimbrel was also impressed.

“Being away from the game for so long and then coming back and doing what he has been doing has been fun to watch,’’ he said during the MASN on-field postgame interview.

Both Scherzer and Kimbrel burnished their legacies during the game. Scherzer struck out Ramon Urias in the second inning to move past Greg Maddux and into 11th place on the all-time career strikeout list with 3,372. He would push that number to 3,375 before leaving the game in the sixth.

Kimbrel’s 435th save moved him back into a tie with Kenley Jansen for the fifth spot on the career saves list and both are on the verge of overtaking Francisco Rodriguez, who saved 437 over 16 seasons. Rodriguez is the only reliever ahead of them who isn’t in the Hall of Fame.

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