As it often happens when the Angels and Dodgers meet, the first game of the Freeway Series proved to be a thrilling affair, with the visiting Halos coming out victorious in 10 innings against the their crosstown rivals by a score of 4-3.
While tonight’s game might be hard pressed to top last night’s in terms of entertainment value, it still holds a good amount of significance, as a win would ensure that the Halos take the season series against the Dodgers for the second time in three years while also putting them three games above .500 for the first time in almost three and a half months.
All of these things make Saturday’s contest a pretty big deal as far as early August games go, and the Angels might have the right man for the job on the mound in Jaime Barria, who has looked very good in his two starts since being recalled to the big leagues on July 25.
Barria’s on the bump for Game 2!— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 7, 2021
In his last outing against the A’s, Barria was stellar, tossing 6.2 scoreless innings against a very good lineup while only allowing four hits and one walk. Combine that with the seven scoreless innings he spun in Minnesota two weeks ago after giving up home runs to the first two batters he faced, and you have nearly 14 consecutive frames since Barria’s last earned run allowed.
This is the best the 25-year-old Barria has looked since his breakout rookie campaign back in 2018, and a big reason why may be because of an uptick in velocity that he has experienced as of late. After reaching an average high of just 92.1 miles per hour on his fastball in his first three years in the league, Barria has come back from Salt Lake sitting between 93 and 94, even reaching as high as 95.3 miles per hour. This has been a pretty significant development considering where Barria was before, and one that might be giving him a higher margin for error than he had in the past.
Opposite Barria will be Julio Urias, who has followed up his historic performance in the playoffs last year with a very good campaign as a member of the Dodgers’ regular rotation. The 24-year-old Urias is tied for the league lead in wins with 13, and his 3.40 ERA ranks within the top 20. He has been a rock for the Dodgers all year, which has been crucial for them considering the significant turnover they have undergone in their rotation.
Despite the great year Urias has been having, one of his worst outings of the season actually came against the Angels, who roughed him up for five earned runs in five innings back on May 7. Some of the players that got to him back then are in the lineup today as well, as Justin Upton tagged him with a solo home run while David Fletcher and Jose Iglesias combined to go 5-9 with three RBI against him. This group has definitely had success against Urias, and if they’re able to do it again, they might be able to walk away with the season series against the Dodgers.
Angels News and Notes
- The Angels shifted their lineup around for Saturday’s game, with Justin Upton moving back in the leadoff spot and David Fletcher shifting one spot down to the two hole. This move was done in order to potentially get the slumping Upton back into form, as he has hit just .140 with 17 strikeouts in the 13 games he’s played since coming off the IL. Upton thrived in the leadoff spot prior to that injury, however, hitting .326 with a 1.020 OPS and six home runs in the 25 games after being moved to the top of the lineup on May 23.
- Joe Maddon announced the team’s rotation for the upcoming four-game set against the Blue Jays, which notably features the return of Chris Rodriguez, who will be called up to start the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. He will be followed by Jose Suarez in the nightcap, with Dylan Bundy and Shohei Ohtani getting the other two starts on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
- Maddon did not have any new updates on Jared Walsh’s status, but according to reporters, he took batting practice and fielded ground balls at first base prior to today’s game. The Angels manager previously said that there was a chance that Walsh could return during the Freeway Series, and this might indicate that he is close to game action.
- The Angels traded one catcher for another today, claiming Chad Wallach off waivers from the Dodgers while designating Anthony Bemboom for assignment. Wallach most recently appeared in the majors with the Marlins for 22 games this year, hitting .200 with a .509 OPS.