Barria (6 K's) shows fight against Astros

September 12th, 2021

HOUSTON -- is pitching to be a part of the Angels' plans in 2022, especially considering he'll be out of Minor League options next year and must remain on the roster or be exposed to waivers.

Barria knows he’s essentially auditioning for his future with the club, and he turned in a decent yet short outing in a 3-1 loss to the Astros in the series finale on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. The right-hander went four innings, allowing one run on four hits and four walks with a season-high six strikeouts.

"I thought he fought," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "I really liked it. Just a high pitch number. A lot of full counts, big counts. This is a team where if you want to pitch deep into a game against them, they're not going to expand a whole lot. You have to get them out in the zone. But he had his velocity at the end, and I liked how he battled through it. I still think there's a growth moment in there."

While he wasn’t involved in the decision, Barria lowered his ERA to 4.93 in 49 1/3 innings this year, including a 4.15 ERA in nine starts since late July. He opened 2021 in relief, making two appearances, before becoming a regular in the rotation on July 25. Barria said he’s thankful for the opportunity to show off what he can do ahead of next season.

"It means a lot,” Barria said through an interpreter. “I'm fortunate I've been able to stay healthy. I think that'll be important going into next year."

The lone run that Barria surrendered came in the first inning, when he gave up a one-out RBI single to Yuli Gurriel after allowing a leadoff single to Jose Altuve and a walk to Yordan Alvarez. Barria then loaded the bases before escaping further damage by getting Carlos Correa to pop up in foul territory and striking out Aledmys Díaz.

Barria settled down from there, retiring 10 of the next 11 batters, including six by strikeout. But after two punchouts to open the fourth, Barria had trouble with his control, walking two and allowing a single to load the bases once more. Again, he got out of trouble, as Alex Bregman flied out to center to end the inning.

"The key was keeping my focus and making some adjustments out there,” Barria said. “Just keeping my head in there. With a team like that, you have to be perfect with every pitch. It's constantly on your mind. You have to be ready to compete. Knowing they have a good lineup, you have to be locked in."

Barria, though, needed 96 pitches to get through four innings and was removed for lefty José Quijada in the fifth. Quijada gave up a two-run homer to Kyle Tucker on a first-pitch fastball that proved to be the difference in the game. Maddon would’ve liked to see a different pitch in that scenario, but he thought it was the right call to go to Quijada, as that was the plan all along against lefties Alvarez and Tucker, plus Gurriel.

"Quijada had been rested,” Maddon said. “It was a heavy number for four innings with 96. And he [Barria] had been coming off 88 pitches, 74 and 54. So it was the right thing to do. Tucker got him. But that's what we had set up before the game. We were going to put Quijada in against those three guys"

The offense couldn’t back Barria, as the Angels were limited to just one run on a homer from Juan Lagares in the fifth. The Halos went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and ultimately lost the series, though Maddon was again pleased with their effort level.

"They're a team that's totally in the hunt right now," Maddon said. “Playing for something more than we are, but we're playing right with them. We did not move the baseball at the right time. But over these three games, there was some good stuff. This is Houston in September, and it's not an easy place to play. They're a very good offensive club. But I think there's something to be gained mentally, internally, from this series."