Jaime Barria was nine months old and probably crawling around in diapers in his Panama City, Panama, home when Bartolo Colon made his major-league debut for the Cleveland Indians at Angel Stadium on April 4, 1997.
Friday night, Barria, now 21 and an Angels starter, stood on the same mound Colon threw his first big-league pitch from more than two decades ago, and opposing him was the seemingly ancient and ageless Colon, the 45-year-old who is still pitching, this season for the Texas Rangers.
Youth prevailed, and it wasn’t even close. Barria, a rookie right-hander making his seventh major-league start, allowed four hits over six scoreless innings, striking out six and walking one, and the Angels clobbered Colon for six runs and eight hits in the first three innings of a 6-0 victory.
“It was a great moment to share this outing with Bartolo on the other side,” Barria said through an interpreter. “I felt good. I was locating all of my pitches, and that gave me confidence.”
Barria, mixing a lively 91-mph fastball with a soft-but-big-breaking slider and changeup, escaped a second-and-third, two-out jam by striking out Ronald Guzman in the second.
He retired three straight batters after Carlos Perez’s leadoff double in the third and struck out Jurickson Profar with a slider in the dirt with two on to end the sixth.
Barria, who started 2017 at Class-A Inland Empire and this season at triple-A Salt Lake, is now 5-1 with a 2.48 ERA and a rotation mainstay for the Angels.
Tempers flared on the game’s final play when Rougned Odor of the Rangers leg-whipped Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons while trying to break up Ronald Guzman’s bases-loaded, 4-6-3 double play.
Though Odor was close enough to touch the second-base bag with his hand, Simmons and second baseman Ian Kinsler took exception to the leg whip that clipped the shortstop in the shin.
Heated words were exchanged and players streamed from the dugouts and bullpens onto the field, but no punches were thrown, and order was quickly restored.
“Odor plays hard like our guys play hard, but I think the slide was a little bit of a veer,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Simmons is fine going hard, but he’s got a nasty gash on his shin; he got spiked pretty hard. It looked like Odor got a little wide on the slide.”
The Rangers disagreed. Manager Jeff Banister called the slide “appropriate,” and Odor said it was clean.
“I was surprised [that Simmons pushed me] because I made a good slide, it wasn’t a dirty slide,” Odor said. “I tried to break up the double play with a good slide. He was angry, but I was like, ‘What are you talking about? It was a good slide.’ ”
According to STATS LLC, the 23-year, 55-day age difference between opposing starters was the largest in any game in Angels franchise history, surpassing the Aug. 10, 1993, matchup between Texas right-hander Nolan Ryan, 46, and Angels right-hander Phil Leftwich, 24, who were 22 years, 108 days apart.
Colon was a 21-year-old flame-thrower with the Cleveland Indians when he made his big league debut in Anaheim in 1997, allowing four runs and six hits, including a Gary DiSarcina homer, in five innings of the Angels’ 8-6, 11-inning victory.
Colon went on to play for 10 more teams, including a four-year stint with the Angels (2004-2007) in which he won the 2005 American League Cy Young Award.
Shoulder injuries limited Colon to 47 starts for the Angels, Red Sox and White Sox from 2006-2009, and his career at the age of 37 appeared done. But after missing the entire 2010 season, Colon returned in 2011 and went 89-75 with a 3.94 ERA in 212 starts from 2011-2018, from the ages of 38-45.
“He went to extraordinary lengths to get back to pitching in the major leagues, and he’s evolved,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s always had tremendous command, even when he was throwing 98 mph. He relies on location and movement now, and he’s shown he can be really effective.”
The portly Colon, who is 5-foot-11 and 285 pounds, now relies primarily on a two-seam sinking fastball that rarely tops 88 mph, but his signature pitch was ineffective against the Angels Friday night.
Mike Trout doubled in the first and scored on Albert Pujols homer to left-center—his eighth of the season and 622nd of his career. Luis Valbuena singled to lead off the second and scored on Kinsler’s two-out homer to left, giving a team that was held to three runs or less in 15 of its previous 22 games a 4-0 lead.
The Angels loaded the bases with no outs in the third when Justin Upton and Pujols singled and Shohei Ohtani walks. Simmons smacked an RBI single to left, and Martin Maldonado’s RBI groundout made it 6-0.