Jaime Barria, Mike Mayers pitch well in Angels loss in opener of doubleheader

SEATTLE — Jamie Barria’s return to the starting rotation and Mike Mayers’ return to the majors were both successful, although neither was good enough for an Angels victory.

Barria and Mayers held down the Seattle Mariners in the Angels’ 2-1 loss in the first game of a split doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.

Barria gave up two runs, both on a Ty France homer, in 4-2/3 innings. Mayers worked the final 3-1/3 without allowing a run.

“Jamie did an unbelievable job, really did, first time out starting,” manager Phil Nevin said. “Made some great pitches. I’m sure when you talk to him he was going to want one back. He and Mike, I thought they did a fantastic job. We just didn’t score enough.”

Barria, who came to the majors as a starter in 2018 but has bounced between the rotation and bullpen since, earned another crack at starting based on his 2.55 ERA as a reliever this season. Saturday’s doubleheader finally provided the opportunity for his first start of the season.

Barria actually took the mound in the first inning directly from the bullpen, which he said was to simulate his routine when coming out of the bullpen.

Both of the runs came on a France homer in the third inning. Otherwise, he had little trouble until his pitch-count passed his previous high. He had hit 68 pitches once this season, and he picked up the second out of the fifth inning on his 67th pitch on Saturday.

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Barria then threw eight balls in his next nine pitches, including a wild pitch, to issue a pair of walks that loaded the bases.

Mayers, making his first appearance with the Angels since May, then got Carlos Santana on a popout to escape the jam.

Mayers tacked on three more scoreless innings.

Mayers was designated for assignment with a 5.40 ERA back in May. He went unclaimed and the Angels kept him in Triple-A, having him start. He added a curve ball and a changeup during his time starting at Triple-A. He said he threw both of them on Saturday, getting some whiffs with his changeup, even though the pitch-trackers misidentified the pitches as cutters.

“It’s good to be back,” Mayers said. “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little difficult mentally. It was definitely humbling to go through that process and not get claimed, especially after the last two years that I had. It was a humbling process. Definitely had to regroup. There’s a lot of people I had in my corner that really helped me get through it and figure it out down there. I’m lucky lucky to have them. This one is pretty sweet after the last two months.”

While Barria and Mayers kept the game close, the Angels lineup could muster nothing after a second-inning run. Jo Adell doubled and scored on a two-out single by Mickey Moniak.

The Angels had a chance in the eighth when Adell reached on an error with one out. Adell then took off for a steal of second as Jared Walsh struck out. Adell didn’t even slide because he thought Walsh’s strikeout was the third out, Nevin said, and Adell was tagged out to end the inning.

While the offense was disappointing, the Angels at least uncovered two more options for greater roles on the pitching staff. Nevin said there will be a discussion about Barria starting.

“I love what I saw,” Nevin said. “It’s definitely in the conversation. Mike threw the ball really well too. I really liked what I saw from Barria today.”