5-18. We’ve got a lot of respect for the squad over there in the Northwest. In 15 starts (86 innings) before the All-Star break, Suarez posted a 3.56 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Richardson says Suarez’s work in the locker room helped him build up his stamina as the season went on. “So we’ve gotta be used to it. In fact, the Angels awarded him with the Iron Angel award, given to one position player and one pitcher at each affiliate who does the best at strength and conditioning.. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
Leadoff hitter Drew Maggi scored on a wild pitch to tie the game in the first inning, and Sherman Johnson and Chad Hinshaw pushed the Travelers ahead with RBIs in the fifth. With the performance, Suarez captured the Texas League ERA title with a 2.98 mark, eclipsing Chris Devenski’s 3.01 for Corpus Christi, and moved into a tie for the most wins on the circuit with 11.
Suarez issued his only run of the game in the first after two walks and a double by Alex Liddi, but settled in after that and didn’t allow more than one baserunner on at a time the rest of the way. Thankfully, they had Albert Suarez, who was going for his own title, on the mound.
“We’ve overcome kind of a lot of adversity here in the second half,” said Travelers manager Bill Richardson, whose club finished the second half 35-35, despite losing 11 of 12 from Aug. Reliever Greg Mahle gave up a run in the ninth, but escaped a one-out jam with a runner on second to seal the win and capture his 16th save.
The Angels right-hander allowed one earned run on three hits and three walks while striking out six over six innings to lead Arkansas to a 3-2 division-clinching win over Northwest Arkansas at Dickey-Stephens Park. We’re excited.”
Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MiLB.com. “But the first thing that felt like things were getting into line was when Suarez fell into the last start of the season, and that felt like it turned our luck a little bit. I’m not gonna say we do anything different than anybody else, but what we do, he’s the best at it.”
As the winners of the two half-season division titles, the Travelers and Naturals will face each other again in a best-of-5 series, starting Wednesday at Northwest Arkansas to determine who will face the South Division champion in the Texas League Finals.
“I’ve gotta think these last two weeks have been playoff games for us already,” said Richardson. He needed only 90 pitches (59 for strikes) to complete his six frames.
Signed by the Angels as a Minor League free agent last offseason after six seasons in the Rays system, the Venezuela native topped 100 innings (163 to be exact) for just the second time as a pro after dealing with 2009 Tommy John surgery, knee problems and bouts with Lyme disease. Solid numbers to be sure, but they pale in comparison to the 2.34 ERA and 0.92 WHIP he had in 12 starts (77 innings) after the break, following Sunday’s start.
“You look at what’s happened to him, and it’s not because he’s not taken care of himself,” Richardson said. He was really good.”
The Double-A Arkansas Travelers needed a win Monday to clinch the Texas League North Division second-half crown.
The outing was the latest in a series of strong second-half starts for the right-hander, who uses a fastball, a curveball, a slider and what his skipper deems a plus changeup. They’ve got a good staff, good players. He did what he’s done every other start. “To go a full season while doing all the physical regiments perfectly, that’s fantastic for him. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB