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Angels

Angels still bullish on pitcher Jaime Barria despite his struggles

At one point, he was 5-1 and no Angels pitcher had more victories.

Since then, he is 0-6 and now eight weeks removed from his most recent win.

It’s worth remembering that Jaime Barria just turned 22.

“Unless your name is Fernando Valenzuela,” manager Mike Scioscia said, “you’re probably going to have some of those bumps in the road and you’re going to have to make some adjustments.”

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Valenzuela, as a 20-year-old rookie for the Dodgers, began the 1981 season 8-0 with a 0.50 ERA.

Barria was never that spectacular, but he was very good after injuries forced the Angels to insert him into the rotation.

In his first seven starts, he gave up 10 earned runs in 36 1/3 innings for a 2.48 ERA. In his next seven starts, he’s surrendered 20 earned runs in 34 2/3 innings for a 5.19 ERA.

“Some of it is commanding counts,” Scioscia said. “Some of it is making mistakes you’re not going to get away with. But he’s competing very well. Some of those games when it hasn’t gone as smooth, he’s still given us opportunities to win.”

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Barria’s strikeouts are down and his walks are up, though neither trend has been drastic. He hasn’t completed six innings since beating Texas for his fifth victory on June 1.

On Saturday, Barria will make his fourth start against Seattle, a team he hasn’t beaten yet. In the three previous games, the Mariners scored seven earned runs off him in 15 1/3 innings, while the Angels produced only four runs total.

“Jaime will continue to grow,” Scioscia said. “He’s a young pitcher. His experience is going to make him better from start to start. He’s holding his own, for sure.”

Kinsler on a roll

He started so slowly that Ian Kinsler was still hitting below .200 on May 29. Entering Friday, however, he was batting .303 for the month, lifting his average to .234, as high as it has been in nearly three months.

“Ian Kinsler is looking like the Ian Kinsler who played against us for all those years,” Scioscia said. “He’s swinging the bat well.”

And perhaps just in time. With the non-waiver trade deadline coming Tuesday, Kinsler could be an option for a contender looking for a veteran second baseman and solid defender.

Short hops

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Eric Young Jr. rejoined the Angels on Friday as they continue to search for a productive fourth outfielder.

He appeared in 47 games last year, hitting .264 with a .754 on-base-plus-slugging-percentage in 110 at-bats. Young had spent all season at triple-A Salt Lake.

Jabari Blash was optioned down, Scioscia explaining that Young offers more versatility by being able to play center and also can provide speed off the bench.

jeff.miller@latimes.com


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