The hits kept coming, one after the other, until Angels right-hander Jaime Barria had thrown 24 pitches without retiring a Kansas City Royals batter in the third inning of Saturday night’s 9-4 loss at Kauffman Stadium.
Barria finally got an out on his 25th pitch of the inning, but that didn’t alleviate the mess he had made. The Royals had already pummeled Barria.
Hunter Dozier hit a two-run triple; Ryan O’Hearn singled him in. Then Jorge Soler doubled on a ground ball that rolled slowly into the outfield when Angels first baseman Justin Bour covered the bag at first instead of committing to chasing the baseball into right field.
Barria never had the chance to recover. He gave up seven earned runs in a 12/3-inning outing, the worst he’s put together since beginning his major league career a year ago.
“I always want to do my job,” Barria said in Spanish. “I want to help the team, try to throw the most innings I can. I’ve never had a game like that. I think I just have to keep working, focus on my next outing and always give my best.”
The Angels employed an opener for the third time in a week on Saturday night. They figured if they replicated what happened last time Barria pitched — he allowed one run over five innings after entering the game in the second inning of the Angels’ 8-6 win over the Seattle Mariners on April 21 — they could line themselves up for a third straight victory.
The setup was perfect. Right-hander Cam Bedrosian issued a two-out walk in an otherwise uneventful first inning. Barria took the mound in the second inning with a 1-0 lead.
But Barria never found his footing. In a 30-pitch inning, Barria gave up a double to his first batter, O’Hearn, who cored three batters later on a single by former Angels catcher Martin Maldonado.
Barria escaped that jam but unraveled in the third. His slider, the pitch he most relies on, hung up in the zone too often. Dozier, who had the first four-hit night of his career, smacked one of those sliders to deep right for his third-inning triple.
“I don’t know if they started sitting on it because of the number of sliders he threw or the location or something else,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “It just seemed to me that it was more the pitch being in the middle of the plate at the wrong time.”
Soler tried to check his swing on a slider over the plate, but his bat made contact with the pitch.
With the Angels infield defense shifted and Luis Rengifo on the other side of second base, the ball had room to dribble into right. Bour started toward the ball but retreated to first base, thinking that Rengifo was going to handle it.
“Honestly I didn’t realize how far Rengifo had been shifted,” Bour said. “I thought he was going to come make the play. It’s one of those ones I have to keep going and chase it into right field.”
Soler scored moments later when Kelvin Gutierrez dropped a two-run single into left. It wasn’t until Maldonado lofted a ball to center after Gutierrez’s hit that Barria got his first out of the third. He allowed another run on Adalberto Mondesi’s second hit of the inning, then was replaced by Chris Stratton.
Barria threw 64 pitches and retired just five of the 16 batters he faced.
“I think what I threw, they kept hitting,” Barria said. “I tried to locate my pitches. My slider didn’t work today.”
The Angels (11-17) had a chance to make a comeback. They sent nine batters to the plate in the fourth inning. They scored two runs when Tommy La Stella singled off Royals starter Jorge Lopez. A little while later, Mike Trout drew a bases-loaded walk from reliever Scott Barlow to cut the Angels’ deficit to 7-4. But Bour, who’s struggled all season to find a groove in the batter’s box, struck out swinging to end the inning.
Stratton, who was moved to the bullpen Friday after a rash of poor starts, gave back two of the Angels’ runs when Dozier ripped another triple, this one to left-center field, in the fifth inning.
The Angels’ offense fell dormant after that.