KANSAS CITY -- For the Angels, Saturday's 9-4 loss to the Royals marked a step back in the bid to establish some pitching consistency one month into the 2019 season.
After stringing together wins on Thursday and Friday, the Angels had a good first inning on Saturday as Cam Bedrosian handled the opener role and handed the ball to primary pitcher Jaime Barria with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of back-to-back doubles by Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout. But it was all downhill from there as Barria struggled mightily. The right-hander needed 30 pitches to get through the second and the Royals tied the game. Then it was an avalanche of Kansas City hits in the third as the Royals scored six runs on eight hits and drove Barria to an early exit. In just 1 2/3 innings, Barria was charged with 10 hits and seven runs.
When he last appeared against Seattle on April 21, Barria had also come on in the second after Angels manager Brad Ausmus went with an opener. Barria went on to work a creditable five innings and allowed only one earned run. But the outing against the Royals went much differently on a cool, windy night.
"It was command," Ausmus said. "He used the slider a ton, especially in his first inning. I don't know if they started sitting on it because of the number of sliders that he threw. It just seemed to me it was more about the pitch being in the middle of the plate at the wrong time."
The seven runs allowed by Barria matched his run total from his previous five appearances over 22 1/3 innings. With the Royals putting on a frenzied hitting show in the third, there was also a bad break for Barria that symbolized his plight. A check swing slow roller by Jorge Soler resulted in a double to short right field as the Angels were shifted to the left side. First baseman Justin Bour took a step toward the ball, but then retreated to the bag. With nobody else on the right side of the infield, the ball rolled through.
"I didn't realize how far [second baseman Luis Rengifo] had shifted," Bour said. "It was one of those where you have to keep going and chase the ball into right field."
The seven runs and 10 hits allowed were each career highs for Barria. The Royals finished with 15 hits and Hunter Dozier went 4-for-5 with two triples and four RBIs.
"They were hitting my slider so I was trying to locate a little bit harder," Barria said through an interpreter. "I didn't feel anything different mechanically. But when I went out for my first inning, it was a little colder than usual. I'm a little disappointed because I always want to give my team the best chance of winning. But I'm going to keep working hard."
The Angels have Matt Harvey ready to go in the series finale on Sunday. Then Griffin Canning, Felix Pena and Tyler Skaggs will work against Toronto at home next week.
By the time they finish that short homestand, the Angels can only hope they will have stacked up a string of solid outings so that their offense isn't in the steep comeback mode that doomed them on Saturday.