Barria falters working after an opener

Right-hander tagged for homers by Vogelbach in 4th and 5th innings

July 20th, 2019

SEATTLE -- With the Angels’ decision to designate veteran right-hander Matt Harvey for assignment on Friday, it’s opened the door for 23-year-old right-hander to show what he can do in the second half.

But Barria, recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake, was absolutely clobbered by the Mariners, surrendering 10 runs on nine hits and four walks over 3 2/3 innings in a 10-0 loss in the series opener on Friday night at T-Mobile Park. It marked the third straight defeat for the Angels, who had an all-around ugly night and didn’t get their first baserunner against Mike Leake until Luis Rengifo singled to open the ninth.

“I wasn’t locating my pitches,” Barria said through an interpreter. “Allowed too many walks. That’s what happens when you get in bad counts. It was a bad outing for me.”

The Angels tried to make it easier on Barria, using reliever Taylor Cole as an opener -- and Cole was again solid in that role, facing the minimum over two scoreless frames before handing it over to Barria. Barria has said he prefers to start, but the strategy allowed him to face the No. 7 batter to open his outing instead of the top of the lineup.

Barria made it through a clean third inning, but once he had to face the middle of the order for the first time, he ran into trouble in a five-run fourth. He walked the first two batters he faced before giving up a three-run homer to Daniel Vogelbach. Omar Narvaez followed with a single, Kyle Seager doubled and Tom Murphy brought them home with a two-run single.

Vogelbach crushed a second three-run homer in the fifth, again after a pair of walks.The sixth was just as ugly, with Murphy leading off with a double and Dee Gordon singling before J.P. Crawford knocked Barria out of the game with a two-run double.

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"The first homer, the changeup stayed up," Barria said. "The second time, I was throwing my breaking ball better, but I had to throw a fastball. I thought that wasn’t the right pitch. I felt better about my slider. But I trusted my catcher and the scouting report more than anything."

The outing caused Barria's ERA to rise from 5.22 to 7.36 in 33 innings this season. Barria’s numbers could’ve been even worse on Friday if not for two diving catches in right field by Kole Calhoun. Barria gave up too much hard contact, including five balls hit with an exit velocity of at least 105 mph, per Statcast.

“Barria just didn't have his best stuff tonight,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “His changeup and slider weren't working the way they normally do. His fastball command wasn't very good.”

Barria has had a tough time replicating his rookie season, when he posted a 3.41 ERA in 26 starts. But this year, he's also had to deal with being shuttled between Triple-A Salt Lake and the Angels without getting a chance to settle into the rotation. Barria's last two starts were much better, allowing one run over five innings against the Reds on June 26 and surrendering two runs over five frames against the Rangers on July 3.

"It’s pretty hard,” Barria said. “Sometimes I pitch here, get sent down, sit at home for two days, and then rejoin Salt Lake. It’s hard because I’ve been doing the work to stay here. But I always try to give my best.”

Given the Angels’ lack of starting pitching depth, Barria is expected to get a longer look but will have to pitch much better than he did on Friday night to keep his spot in the rotation. Barria, though, is confident he’ll be better going forward and believes getting into a routine in the rotation will help him.

“Being here I can relax,” Barria said. “I can focus on my pitches. I don’t have to worry about if I pitch well they send me down, or if I pitch a bad game and they still send me down. I always try to come here, and more than anything, I think I have the possibility to pitch better next time.”

Offense shut down by Leake

While Barria was plenty hittable, Leake had a perfect game going through eight innings until Rengifo broke it up with a leadoff single to right in the ninth. Leake ended up throwing a one-hit shutout with one walk while throwing 98 pitches.

It came exactly one week after Cole and Felix Pena combined to no-hit the Mariners on the same night they memorably honored the late Tyler Skaggs at Angel Stadium. Leake recorded just two outs in that game, allowing seven runs (four earned) on eight hits.

“I think he threw very well today,” Rengifo said. “In and out, changeup, curveball. My last at-bat, I got ready for breaking ball or changeup, and I got that hit to the right side.”