Angels starting pitcher Jaime Barria throws to the plate during the first inning of Friday’s game against the Rangers at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
ANAHEIM — Youth was served Friday at Angel Stadium.
The Angels won a rare May-December matchup between 21-year-old pitcher Jaime Barria and his 45-year-old Texas Rangers counterpart, Bartolo Colon, 6-0 before the announced crowd of 33,511 at Angel Stadium.
Barria, in his seventh major league start, did not allow a run for six innings.
Colon, in his 538th major league start, left the game after three innings trailing 6-0.
Albert Pujols and Ian Kinsler hit home runs, Mike Trout went 2 for 4 with a double, and Shohei Ohtani also doubled in his return to the Angels’ lineup. It was a banner night for the offense overall. After a couple listless efforts at the plate in Detroit, the Angels collected 11 hits to kick off a six-game homestand.
It was an even better night for Barria.
The right-hander from Panama began the season in Triple-A. A series of injuries made him the de facto sixth wheel in the Angels’ attempt at a six-man rotation. Four times this season, Barria has been optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake, only to be summoned back to the majors.
After improving to 5-1 and lowering his earned-run average to 2.48, Barria solidified his case to remain in the majors. He walked one batter and struck out six, and became the first Angels starter to win four consecutive decisions this season.
In the second inning, Barria used three sliders to strike out Ronald Guzman with runners on second and third base and two outs. In the third inning, Barria allowed a leadoff double to former teammate Carlos Perez, then retired the top three batters in the Texas lineup in order.
Barria didn’t allow another baserunner until the sixth inning when Justin Upton misplayed a Shin-Soo Choo flyball into a double. With two outs, Barria got Jurickson Profar to chase a two-strike slider in the dirt on his 89th and final pitch.
The win allowed the Angels (31-27) to keep pace with the victorious Houston Astros (37-22) and remain 5-1/2 games out of first place in the American League West. The Rangers (24-36) fell further into the division cellar.
In the first inning, Trout ripped a double over the head of third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Colon struck out Upton, then served up a low, scorching home run to Pujols that sailed out to left-center field. The Angels led 2-0.
It was the 622nd home run of Pujols’ career and his fourth off Colon. The first? June 8, 2007, when Colon was pitching for the Angels and Pujols was playing for the Cardinals.
In the second inning, Luis Valbuena hit a fly ball that caromed off the low wall in the right-field corner a couple feet shy of a home run. He settled for a single. Three batters later, Kinsler skied an 85-mph Colon fastball over the left-field fence. The Angels led 4-0.
Kinsler has seven home runs and 16 RBIs in 26 games against the Rangers since he was traded to Detroit in Nov. 2013.
Colon coughed up two more runs in the third inning. Singles by Upton and Pujols and a walk by Ohtani loaded the bases. That brought up Andrelton Simmons, who began the day with one of the best career batting averages against Colon (.462) of any player. Simmons singled, driving in Upton. Pujols scored from third base on a groundout by Martin Maldonado, giving the Angels all the runs they would need.
In three innings, Colon (2-3) allowed six runs and eight hits. He walked one batter and struck out four. His earned-run average soared from 3.55 to 4.21.
Angels pitcher Blake Parker closed out the game by getting Guzman to ground into a double play with the bases loaded. When Rougned Odor clipped the shin of Simmons, the Angels shortstop, sliding into second base, tempers flared and both benches emptied onto the field.
The fracas ended peacefully with Simmons explaining his gripe to home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth.
More to come on this story.