His slider was working and so were his changeup and fastball.
Everything was working for Jaime Barria on Wednesday. Everything but his bat.
“I think his last at-bat was a home run when he was 16,” manager Mike Scioscia joked. “He couldn’t carry that momentum over to today.”
No problem. The Angels already have one two-way phenom in Shohei Ohtani. As long as Barria can pitch like he did in an 8-0 victory over Colorado, the team is fine with him being a one-way sensation.
The rookie produced 5 1/3 in-control innings, continually flustering the Rockies with runners on base and allowing the Angels to earn a split of this two-game series.
It didn’t matter that his first two big league plate appearances resulted in three outs, the latter being a groundball double play.
For the record, Barria said his most recent at-bat actually came when he was a shortstop at age 15, a year before the Angels signed him out of Panama to be a pitcher.
“I didn’t have enough time to practice,” he said through an interpreter. “I was a little nervous (hitting) at the beginning.”
When it came to Barria’s pitching, the first thing Scioscia praised was the opposite of nerves: poise.
After pinch-hitter Noel Cuevas led off the fifth with a single, Barria struck out Charlie Blackmon with a high fastball. The inning abruptly ended when David Dahl next lined into a double play.
He also pitched around a leadoff double in the second and a two-out double in the third, the 21-year-old successfully navigating the pitfalls of pinballing Coors Field.
“It’s tough to pitch here,” catcher Rene Rivera said. “He did a great job.”
The performance continued an impressive run for the Angels’ rotation, a run that is reaching notable levels. Over the past nine games, the starters have an ERA of 1.87 and none has allowed more than two runs.
Just seven pitches into the game, the Angels had a lead they wouldn’t relinquish when Zack Cozart, who had doubled, came home on Mike Trout’s single.
Cozart was moved to the leadoff spot in place of Ian Kinsler, who entered batting .189 and then, hitting sixth, had an RBI single and a walk in five plate appearances.
Cozart’s response to the move also included a solo homer in the third, putting the Angels up 2-0.
Justin Upton, who finished with three hits, followed a batter later with a two-run homer, doubling the Angels’ lead and giving Barria room to exhale.
The Angels’ fifth run came on a homer by Rivera, a drive that apparently validated the health of the catcher.
Rivera was hit in the right hand by a foul tip early and appeared to be heading to the bench after his first practice throw to test the hand sailed into the outfield.
“The first couple minutes are the tough ones,” said Rivera, who was X-rayed after the game and pronounced himself OK. “Your hand gets numb. You have to wait to get the feeling back.”
He stayed in and still remained after taking another ball off the same spot while securing a foul tip that lodged in his right armpit.
“That was strange,” Rivera said, smiling. “It hit my hand and then came right in my armpit and just stayed there. I don’t know how I did that, just more reaction.”
Whatever the explanation, the results worked Wednesday for the Angels, who are 22-14 and heading back to Anaheim for the longest homestand of the season.