HOUSTON -- Jaime Barria’s slider got him to the Major Leagues. When it’s good, it’s really good and one of the reasons the Angels see so much upside in the 23-year-old right-hander. He’s one of the kids they’re running out down the stretch to see how they perform and how
HOUSTON -- Jaime Barria’s slider got him to the Major Leagues. When it’s good, it’s really good and one of the reasons the Angels see so much upside in the 23-year-old right-hander. He’s one of the kids they’re running out down the stretch to see how they perform and how they react.
This was the 50th game the Angels have handed the baseball to a starter 23 or under, and somewhere down the line, they hope this kind of experience will be invaluable.
Now about that slider. Location matters, too. Barria was reminded of that again and again Friday night when the Astros drilled four those of those sliders out of the park on their way to a 6-4 victory over the Angels.
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Barria allowed three home runs in the first inning and had dug himself a 5-0 deficit in a matter of minutes. José Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa tagged him for homers in the first inning, and Correa got him again in the third.
Barria lasted just 2 2/3 innings in his shortest start of the season. He was reminded that learning experiences can be painful.
“The first inning, it looked like they took advantage of some balls that weren’t well executed,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “A couple of hanging breaking balls. They’re a very good offensive club. A lot of power up and down the lineup, and they took advantage of some balls up in the zone.”
Ausmus went to the mound in the first inning to remind Barria to fight through the problems, focus on pitch location and not look back.
“I really just wanted his focus to be forward,” Ausmus said. “I didn’t want him to concern himself with what had already happened because you can’t do anything about it.”
Barria got the Astros in order in the second, then departed with two runners on base and two outs in the bottom of the third.
“I could locate my slider,” Barria said. “All the home runs were on offspeed pitches left up in the zone.”
He said his manager told him to “try to locate pitches better. Try to stay under control, relaxed.”
“I tried to make adjustments in the second and third innings,” he said. “It’s a learning experience. You’ve got to work in the bullpen. You’ve got to work in the game. Then you go from there.”
The Angels got a Kevan Smith home run in the third, then strung together five straight hits and scored three times in the top of the fourth to make it a 6-4 game.
That’s where it stayed as the Astros got four shutout innings from four relievers to win their 101st game and reduce their magic number to clinch the American League West to one.
“It’s more about locating [the slider],” Ausmus said. “He threw some good ones as well. He got some swings and misses on it. They are a very good offensive club, so this could happen to a seasoned veteran as well.”
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.