ANAHEIM -- With the Angels reshuffling their rotation in recent weeks, right-hander Jaime Barria has taken advantage of the situation and turned in his second straight strong outing on Saturday afternoon against the A’s.
Barria threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings to lift the Angels to a much-needed 1-0 win at Angel Stadium. It came after he allowed just two runs over seven innings in a win over the Twins on July 25. Barria gave up back-to-back solo homers to open that outing and hasn’t allowed a run in 12 2/3 innings since then, which has impressed manager Joe Maddon.
“I think it’s confidence,” Maddon said. “I think he's pretty much the same guy. I think he has more conviction per pitch. I believe he thinks he's going to throw it to a good spot and the contact isn't going to be that great."
He’ll have to keep it going, but it’s a good sign for the Angels, who will need their young starters to step up. Left-hander Andrew Heaney was traded to the Yankees on Friday, while right-hander Griffin Canning is currently injured at Triple-A Salt Lake and lefty José Quintana has been moved to the bullpen. Right-hander Alex Cobb was also placed on the injured list with right wrist inflammation on Friday as well.
Left-hander Patrick Sandoval, 24, has taken advantage of his opportunities, and top prospect Reid Detmers, 22, will join the rotation on Sunday. The Angels are still deciding when Barria will make his next start or if he’ll head to the bullpen, but Maddon believes the future remains bright for the 25-year-old who has parts of four seasons of experience under his belt with a 4.43 ERA in 264 innings.
"It's interesting to watch, you're watching the development of some really good starting pitchers right now,” Maddon said. “They're not there yet, but they're on the right track. And the fact they're all around the same age and the same experience level, I think communicatively, they can help one another."
Barria scattered four hits and a walk and escaped jams in the third and sixth innings before running into trouble in his final frame. He quickly recorded two outs in the seventh, but then surrendered back-to-back singles to Sean Murphy and Tony Kemp. Elvis Andrus then hit a grounder to third, but Jack Mayfield made an error to load the bases. Barria was lifted after having thrown 95 pitches, and Steve Cishek kept the game scoreless by getting Mark Canha to fly out to left.
"I thought he was running out of gas,” Maddon said of Barria. “Nobody on with two outs, and then two pretty well-struck balls and then the ball off Mayfield's chest. But give him credit, he was right around 95 pitches and he made really good pitches when it mattered. Great composure. I thought he was outstanding once again."
Barria leaned heavily on his slider, throwing it 37 times compared to 30 four-seam fastballs and 24 sinkers. His velocity has also been up relative to recent years, as his fastball touched 95 mph.
"My confidence is definitely high,” Barria said through an interpreter. “It's right where I want to be. Now it's just about focusing on each start and going out there ready to compete."
He didn’t get much help from the offense, however, as the Angels continued their struggle to score runs against Oakland this season. Two-way star Shohei Ohtani plated the lone run with an RBI double in the third off lefty Cole Irvin. It was the Major League-leading 64th extra-base hit of the season for Ohtani, whose next start on the mound is still yet to be determined while he deals with a sore right thumb.
But closer Raisel Iglesias, who notably wasn’t moved before Friday’s Trade Deadline despite being an impending free agent, helped preserve the win with a four-out save and said he’s pleased he’s still with the Angels.
"It was very difficult for me, Thursday going into Friday, I could hardly sleep," Iglesias said through an interpreter. "That's all I was thinking about. But when I found out I was staying here, I was really happy. I've enjoyed my time here and everyone feels like a family. Now, I'm just focusing on finishing the season strong and healthy."