José Suarez added a second changeup to his pitching repertoire this season and it has given him “100% confidence” to offer batters different looks.
He certainly kept the Oakland Athletics off balance all night.
Suarez struck out eight over seven superb innings to outpitch fellow lefty Cole Irvin, and the Angels edged the A’s 1-0 on Monday.
Luis Rengifo homered in the first and it held up to provide dear friend Suarez with just enough support.
“He’s like my brother. We grew up together,” Suarez said of his Venezuelan countryman from the same city, Naguanagua. “It’s great when he hits well and I pitch well and we win.”
Suarez (4-4) gave up two hits while earning his second straight win against the A’s. He hasn’t yielded an earned run in his last 18 innings.
“Gifo’s ball was a bomb off a tough pitcher,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “I really like Irvin. He’s pitched well against us both times. We were able to get one across and that’s what we needed.”
Aaron Loup worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his second save to close out the two-hit shutout in just 2 hours, 14 minutes.
Irvin (6-9) faced the Angels for a second consecutive start after losing to them last Tuesday despite giving up just two runs in six innings. He took another tough defeat Monday night.
Irvin struck out six, didn’t walk a batter and surrendered five hits over eight innings. He’s still striving for his first career complete game, and he’s getting closer.
“I don’t start a game with the thought that I’m coming out early. I start a game to finish it,” Irvin said. “Haven’t done that yet at this level, but that’s how I pitch. That’s how I’ve always been.”
Steven Duggar, claimed off waivers Sunday from Texas, made his Angels debut when he entered to play left field in the eighth.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.