ANAHEIM -- Angels rookie Jaime Barria was less than nine months old when Bartolo Colon broke into the Majors with the Indians in April 1997.When the 21-year-old Barria took the mound opposite the 45-year-old Colon on Friday night, it represented the largest age difference between opposing pitchers in franchise history.
ANAHEIM -- Angels rookie Jaime Barria was less than nine months old when Bartolo Colon broke into the Majors with the Indians in April 1997.
When the 21-year-old Barria took the mound opposite the 45-year-old Colon on Friday night, it represented the largest age difference between opposing pitchers in franchise history. But youth ultimately trumped seniority, as Barria fired six shutout innings to lead the Angels to a 6-0 win in their series opener against the Rangers at Angel Stadium.
"When he debuted, I was barely one year old," Barria said of Colon. "It's really impressive. It was a great moment to share with him and watch him pitch."
Barria allowed just four hits while walking one and striking out six in the 89-pitch effort. He now has a 2.48 ERA over seven outings with the Angels, the lowest among American League rookies who have pitched at least 30 innings this season.
"He's been amazing the whole year," shortstop Andrelton Simmons said. "He's going to be big for us down the stretch, and we hope he can keep doing what he's been doing so far. He's not fazed at all. It doesn't matter who he's pitching against, he's always composed. They might get a couple hits here and there, but he comes back at hitters and that's all you can ask of a pitcher, especially a young guy."
Colon won the AL Cy Young Award with the Angels in 2005, but was not in peak form on Friday, surrendering six runs over three innings. Jose Pujols and Ian Kinsler each launched two-run home runs, and every batter in the Angels' starting lineup finished with at least one hit.
After the Angels surged ahead, 6-0, in the third, the game featured little drama until the ninth. The Rangers mounted a last-ditch rally against newly acquired reliever Oliver Drake, loading the bases with one out and forcing manager Mike Scioscia to bring in Richard Parker to face Ronald Guzman. Parker induced a game-ending 4-6-3 double play, but tempers flared after Rougned Odor slid wide of the bag and clipped Simmons on the left shin at second base while attempting to break up the play.
Simmons took exception to the slide and exchanged heated words with Odor, causing the benches to clear, though the confrontation didn't escalate further. The Angels downplayed the fracas afterward.
"I think Odor goes in there hard," Scioscia said. "He plays hard like our guys play hard. I think the slide looked like it took a little bit of a veer. I think Simba is fine with guys going hard, but he's got a nasty gash on his shin. He got spiked pretty hard. It just looked like Odor got a little wide on the slide."
The Angels pounced on Colon early, as Michael Trout ripped a 112-mph double to left field before scoring on Pujols' two-run blast to left-center field to give the club a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Luis Valbuena then led off the second with a long single off the right-field wall, setting up Kinsler's two-run shot to left field. After enduring a slow start to the season, Kinsler is now 10-for-19 over his last five games, a stretch that has lifted his batting average from .178 to .216.
"He's much more comfortable in the box," Scioscia said. "That's a good sign. That's something that obviously we're going to need."
The Angels continued to add on in the third after loading the bases with no outs on back-to-back singles from Justin Upton and Pujols and a walk from Shohei Ohtani. Simmons drove in a run with a single to left field, and Martin Maldonado contributed an RBI groundout to cap the Angels' productive night at the plate.
Barria, meanwhile, stranded baserunners in the second and third innings and used his lively fastball and sharp breaking ball to keep the Rangers at bay for most of the night. He was tested in the sixth after yielding a double to Shin-Soo Choo and walking Nomar Mazara to put a pair of runners on with two outs, but he kept Texas off the board by striking out Jurickson Profar swinging on a breaking ball in the dirt.
"His poise is well beyond what you would expect a young 21-year-old coming up to the Major Leagues," Scioscia said. "Anytime you have an outing like this, it can't help but make your footprints a little bit deeper. He's shown us a lot. He's shown us a lot coming through our Minor League system, and he's shown us a lot in the looks he's had so far in the major leagues. He's on a good run."
Garrett Richards (4-4, 4.67 ERA) will oppose left-hander Cole Hamels (3-5, 3.74 ERA) as the Angels and Rangers continue their three-game series on Saturday night at 6:27 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Richards took the loss in his last start on Sunday after giving up three runs and walking five over 2 1/3 innings against the Yankees. In 22 career appearances (18 starts) against Texas, Richards is 9-4 with a 3.11 ERA. Prior to the game, the Angels will hold a ceremony in honor of Albert Pujols, who collected his 3,000th career hit last month.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.