ANAHEIM — José Suarez looked toward a faded pink sky in the second inning on Monday and saw absolutely nothing during a moment of helplessness that seemed to stand as a symbol of his hard-luck night.
As Josh Bell’s rocket-launch infield popup raced above the glow of the stadium lights
As Josh Bell’s rocket-launch infield popup raced above the glow of the stadium lights at dusk, Suarez lost track of the ball, and so did first baseman Albert Pujols, who raised his palms skyward. Catcher Max Stassi was able to drift out and make the catch between the mound and first base.
The sigh of relief was brief for Suarez, as the rookie left-hander lasted just three innings, giving up six runs, although only four were earned after the Angels made three errors in the first two innings of a 10-2 defeat to the Pirates at Angel Stadium.
Help was hard to find for Suarez, as third baseman Matt Thaiss made two errors in the first two innings and Pujols made a throwing miscue that allowed two runs to score in a three-run first. Shortstop Wilfredo Tovar also had a ball get past him in the opening inning, but that was ruled a hit for Starling Marte.
“[Thaiss] is new to the position; he just started playing it a few months ago,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Those things are going to happen.”
Suarez did his postgame interview via speaker phone, saying he started to come down with a migraine headache toward the end of his outing.
“I felt strong during my outing, but as I went through, I started declining a little bit,” Suarez said through an interpreter.
After ending an eight-game skid with consecutive victories in Boston this past weekend, the Angels were unable to carry any momentum into a series against a Pirates team that entered on its own eight-game losing streak that included five consecutive defeats at home.
Since consecutive victories against the National League-best Dodgers from July 23-24, the Angels are just 4-13, dealing a serious blow to their chances of getting back into the American League Wild Card race.
Suarez (2-4) was in trouble from the jump, as the Pirates batted around in the first inning. Kevin Newman led off with a single, Bell had an RBI single four batters into the game and the Angels followed that with consecutive errors by Thaiss and Pujols.
It did not get better from there, as Newman, Jacob Stallings, Bryan Reynolds and Bell all hit home runs in the first six innings. Bell’s was his 30th of the season. Newman went deep against Suarez. Stallings, Reynolds and Bell all hit homers off Jose Rodriguez.
“I am always confident in myself and my abilities, and I go out there every time with the same confidence as before,” Suarez said. “Today, it just didn’t work out.”
Over his past two starts, Suarez has given up 12 runs (10 earned) on 17 hits in eight innings, leaving the Angels to consider his confidence level after just 11 Major League starts.
“It’s a tough line to walk, because you don’t want his confidence to be eroded,” said Ausmus, offering a reminder that Suarez is just 21 years old. “You want him to get experience, but you don’t want him to get beat down. There is a line you have to walk there.”
Pirates starter Mitch Keller (1-1), an Iowa native who as a kid saw Mike Trout play at Class A Cedar Rapids and said it would be “cool” to face him, held the Angels to two runs (one earned) over five innings for his first Major League victory. Trout walked twice and flied out against the right-hander, who was making his fourth career start.
Rodriguez followed Suarez by giving up three runs on four hits over four innings, with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodriguez was recalled earlier Monday after right-hander Justin Anderson was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right upper trapezius strain.