Robert Suarez was an interesting freehand pitcher. The Nippon Professional Baseball veteran had emerged as the dominant goalman for the Hanshin Tigers with 67 saves over the past two seasons. It was understandable that he had a lot of interest in the league before signing with the San Diego Padres.
Suarez is expected to play a key role in the Padres’ bullpen. Before taking over from Taylor Rogers on opening day, he had actually been the favorite to get closer, showing the organization’s confidence in the 31-year-old rookie. Then came opening day.
Robert Suarez makes unfortunate history in San Diego Padres debut
He was trusted with the Padres’ 2-0 lead in the ninth inning. Maybe it was a nerve thing in his major league debut, but Suarez completely broke down. He walked two of the three batters he faced and hit the third with a pitch before being mercifully pulled out of the game. Relief was not to be had, however, when a wild pitch overshot a run and Seth Beer belted a three-run walk-off homer to send San Diego to defeat.
Suarez made history with this game. He was the first pitcher since Frank Dupee in 1901 to take on three batters, hit them all with one foot or one batter, and lose on his major league debut. However, Dupee started that game and then never played in the majors again. However, he played in the Minors for years, mostly in the old New England League.
Chances are that Suarez will have plenty more opportunities to prove himself. Though Rogers will have the ninth inning, Suarez will still play a key role in the bullpen and be one of the Padres’ key setup men. One trip will not change his future.
Everyone has their dream of what their major league debut is going to be like. For San Diego Padre’s aide Robert Suarez, that dream turned into a nightmare.