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OC Register: Angels come up short in slugfest after another sloppy start for José Suarez

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ANAHEIM —José Suarez isn’t giving the Angels much reason to remain confident in him.

The left-hander gave up seven runs on five homers in the Angels’ 11-10, 10-inning loss to the Oakland A’s on Monday night, raising his ERA to 10.26 after four starts.

Suarez was spared a loss because the Angels rallied from the early six-run deficit to tie the score in the sixth. They actually took a one-run lead in the seventh before giving up a run in the ninth and then allowing three more in the 10th. They scored two in the bottom of the 10th on Brandon Drury’s second home run of the game but still came up short. Mike Trout grounded out to end it, stranding two runners.

Andrew Wantz and Jaime Barria were charged with a blown save and a loss, respectively, but it was still Suarez who was mostly responsible for this mess, and it now could cost him his spot in the rotation.

In 16-2/3 innings, he’s allowed 29 hits and nine walks. This performance was against a team off to a historically bad start. The A’s exceeded their average of 3.41 runs per game by the second inning. Suarez gave up homers to Brent Rooker and José Aguilar in the first inning. Kevin Smith, who came into the game with a career .469 OPS, hit a three-run homer in the second. In the third inning, Suarez gave up back-to-back homers to Rooker and Aguilar again.

Suarez is the third pitcher in Angels history to allow five homers in a game, and the first to do so in a span of three innings.

After that inning, Manager Phil Nevin had a chat with Suarez on the top step of the dugout. Suarez then pitched two more innings. He didn’t give up another run, but the damage to his own job status might have been done.

Before the game, Nevin was asked about how long the Angels could stick with Suarez if he doesn’t perform better.

“There becomes a sense of urgency where production has to happen,” Nevin said. “I’m not saying this is an ultimatum, this or that start at all for him. Like we said, the stuff has been there. The stuff was the same and even better, and a lot of the shapes and spins that he had last year. The results haven’t been.

“He needs to locate better within the strike zone and he hasn’t done that. When he’s gotten outside the zone, he’s walked some guys. The quality of strikes he’s throwing has to be better. He’ll get there. He’s too good. He worked too hard.”

The Angels now have to figure out a way to get Suarez back to that level.

Last year they sent him to Triple-A after he posted a 6.35 ERA in his first four starts. He returned later in the season, with some improvements to both his changeup and his slider, and he posted a 2.81 ERA in his last 11 starts of the season.

Now, sending him to Triple-A isn’t on the table, because he’s out of options. It is likely another team would claim Suarez, 25, based solely on his age and what he has done for the previous two years. In 2021-22, Suarez had a 3.86 ERA over 207-1/3 innings.

The Angels could simply swap Suarez and left-hander Tucker Davidson, who has been pitching out of the bullpen. Davidson, who worked 2-1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Suarez on Monday, has a 2.40 ERA in 15 innings this season.

The next turn for Suarez, or whoever replaces him, would be on Sunday against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

More to come on this story.

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