Albert Suárez stood in the depths of Fenway South, the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox, and stated, without hesitation, that he was ready for the next step.

Do you feel like you are ready to pitch in the major leagues again?

“Yes,” he replied. “I can do it.”

On Wednesday, he didn’t just prove he can play at the major league level again. He showed that, after seven years away, he’s better than ever. Suárez pitched 5 2/3 innings scoreless innings for the Orioles, giving up just three hits and striking out four while walking none. The Orioles went on to beat the Twins 4-2, thanks to the first walk-off home run of Cedric Mullins’ career, completing a three-game sweep.

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Although Wednesday marked a career milestone for Mullins, he too was focused on Suárez’s big day.

“He was nothing short of amazing,” Mullins said. “He came out there and handled his business, very professional. I love what I saw.”

“It takes a lot of perseverance, a lot of commitment and dedication, to do what he did today,” Mullins added.

Albert Suárez delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins. It was his first major league game since 2017. (Ulysses Muñoz / The Baltimore Banner)

This wasn’t Suárez’s debut, although he said he enjoyed this call-up more than that. That day came in 2016, and he pitched in 40 games, starting 12, for the Giants across that season and the next. He took a detour after that, heading to Japan then South Korea, all with the goal of returning to a big league mound.

He was about to return to South Korea in September when the Orioles called about a minor league deal. It was early for a team with aspirations of a deep playoff run to be thinking about the next season, but it was too good an opportunity to let pass.

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He signed and was brought to camp as a nonroster invitee.

“I was like, if a team shows interest in me in September for next year, that means they want me,” Suárez said. “This is what I was looking for. That’s why I took the chance.”

He was in camp this spring until the end, but, with the rotation set to start the season, there was no room for Suárez on the major league roster. With Tyler Wells on the injured list with right elbow inflammation, the Orioles suddenly had an opening. Suárez, on enough rest between his starts with Triple-A Norfolk, got the call.

He got the news Tuesday and arrived in Baltimore that night, getting his full eight hours of sleep, he noted. When first pitch came Wednesday, he was more than awake. He struck out Twins leadoff hitter Edouard Julien on a 95.7 mph four-seam fastball and only got more aggressive from there. He rarely missed a spot, and his cutter and changeup were also sharp.

“I just want to give credit to our pro scouting department, front office. That was an amazing signing right there,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He just helped us win a major league baseball game, and he looked outstanding.”

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Hyde said they started to notice his potential during spring training. That time period, Suárez said, was the strongest he had ever felt. He put an emphasis on the weight room, which helped him create the force to home plate he was trying to develop.

It showed Wednesday. In his prior stint in the majors seven years ago, the hardest he could throw was 96 mph. Against the Twins, he reached 97.8 and threw above 96 mph 26 times.

Suárez will likely get at least once more shot. Wells will miss at least two more starts. John Means, who is rehabbing with Norfolk, is expected back at the end of the month or May at the latest, general manager Mike Elias said last week.

Regardless of how long his stint will be, Suárez made an impression. Hyde applauded him as he removed him from the game in the sixth, the Camden Yards workday crowd of 15,860 on its feet as he walked toward the dugout.

Suárez always believed he would make it back. On Wednesday, he got to prove to himself that he was right.

“When you have faith and you’ve been working so hard to get back and it happens, all I can think of is keep working hard and good things will happen,” he said.

Danielle Allentuck covers the Orioles for The Baltimore Banner. She previously reported on the Rockies for the Denver Gazette and general sports assignments for The New York Times as part of its fellowship program. A Maryland native, Danielle grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from Ithaca College.

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