Angels handily sweep Rangers
As tough as it is to make the big leagues, tougher still can be remaining there.
So, after winning his major league debut, after limiting Texas to one hit over five innings, after helping the Angels to a sweep, Jaime Barria was presented with a game ball and a return ticket to the minors.
“I understood the process,” he said after the Angels won 7-2. “It didn’t matter what I did today. I knew it was going to happen.”
Barria was optioned back to triple-A Salt Lake to make room for Nick Tropeano, who will start Thursday when the Angels open a series in Kansas City.
The move was just the latest in what projects to be a flexible rotation as the Angels deal with injuries and the complexities of accommodating Shohei Ohtani’s pitching schedule.
At the same time, they’ve opened the season 10-3, matching the franchise’s best start after 13 games.
In winning three straight here, the Angels outscored the Rangers 26-6 and never trailed.
In fact, since losing Saturday at home to Oakland, they’ve played 36 innings and have had the lead at the end of 35 of them.
The only time they didn’t lead was after the first inning Wednesday, when the score was still 0-0.
So, during this stop, the Angels put Texas in a position where it was constantly looking up its visitors, constantly coming back. Or attempting to come back. And failing to do so. Miserably.
The Angels got three hits and two RBIs from Kole Calhoun, two hits and an RBI from Jefry Marte and an RBI single from Ohtani, who finished one for three with a walk as the designated hitter.
The Rangers started Matt Moore, who since the start of the 2017 season, is 6-18 with a 5.74 ERA.
So, even with the Angels turning to the 21-year-old Barria, this game had the feel of another potential mismatch.
The Angels’ No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Barria had made only one, two-inning appearance since the end of spring training.
Against Texas, he needed 20 pitches, 11 of them balls, to work around back-to-back walks in the first inning.
From there, Barria looked very little like a guy who had made only four starts above double-A before Wednesday.
He gave up a home run to Ryan Rua leading off the third but no other hits in his five innings.
“We felt he was part of our depth,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “He showed it tonight.”
This occasion was more monumental than it might have appeared on the surface. The Angels hadn’t had a starter get the win in his big league debut since June 2009 when Sean O’Sullivan beat San Francisco.
For a team having as much as the Angels are at the moment, this game fittingly featured some late comic relief.
After walking in the eighth, Ohtani nearly was picked off first by Rangers reliever Chris Martin, his former teammate with the Nippon-Ham Fighters. Originally ruled out, the call was overturned in review.
Moments later, Ohtani was picked off by Martin in an almost identical play, Martin’s throw barely beating him in the sequel.
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “I’d never seen him pick off [anyone] that fast with the Fighters. That surprised me.”
The Angels have won four games in a row and four series, too, and now go to Kansas City to face a Royals team that is 3-7 and has lost four of its first five home games.
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