Austin Jackson had a hit a lazy fly ball to center field which was easily caught by Craig Gentry. He was the 10th straight Tiger to come up to bat and be sat down by Feliz and his pitch count was still tiny. And then with an inside pitch that went a little too inside, Brennan Boesch turned Feliz from an iceman to something a little slushier.
After being hit Boesch was hoping all over the place like he was dying. It was almost an Oscar worthy bit of acting. But during the time he was being looked at by the trainer, the camera was on Feliz, and you could see something change in his demeanor. He began to think too much about what had happened. He seemed to mentally be questioning everything about that at bat. No one came and talked to Feliz, he seemed to be a man alone and I think that made him break a little that inning.
The wheels came off of Feliz after that he did get Miguel Cabrera to strikeout, but then it went walk, single, walk, single, walk, popfly and the game was suddenly 3-1.
The game was effectively over, the amount of time that Feliz was on the mound that inning gave Verlander the time he needed to compose himself and he came back with a vengeance, taking no time between pitches and making the Rangers bats look terrible.
The question that must be asked it what to think about that half inning? The debate began on Twitter and took over rather quickly. While there were many good points being made everywhere the two main sides were made during the exchange between Nolan Writin’ writer Mike Luna and Jamey Newberg. I have copied it word for word so that nothing can be taken out of context.
“Jamey Newberg@NewbergReport This is the Feliz nightmare. Remember that Holland and Harrison went thru the sudden meltdown tendencies when they were young MLB starters.
M. Luna@BleacherSeatsTX @newbergreport I’d hardly call that meltdown. Not a great inning, but he stuck with it & got through it. We’ll have to see how he is in 5th.
Jamey Newberg@NewbergReport Visible frustration, stabs at Vito throws. Could see it coming.
M. Luna @BleacherSeatsTX @newbergreport I’ll call it a learning experience. Not a good inning by any means, but some good can come out of it.”
I think Mike nailed the argument and I can’t really understand Newberg’s negativity towards Neftali on this. Feliz is a young pitcher, a mere 23 years old, who is being asked to come out of his comfort zone as a closer and become a starter where he must change everything that has been approach to major league pitching. He can’t go all out on fastballs. He isn’t Nolan Ryan, no one is.
The decision to leave Feliz in the game to fight his way through the mess was the best that Wash could have made. Feliz needs the confidence that he knows he can fight out of a mess to be a great starting pitcher.
It was the wrong decision, in my opinion, that Wash made during the April 19th game to pull Robert Ross in the bottom of the 8th. Ross is almost exactly a year younger than Neftali is, and has much less experience in the Major Leagues. One of our readers Mr. Phil Caruso, @phully on twitter, made this statement after I questioned Wash’s move.
“I hear ya, but that’s not always the answer. Sometimes the answer is “lol kid. didn’t work. we’ll get em next time.”
Sometimes that is exactly the right thing and sometimes you have to know your pitcher. Feliz may have been worthless for a while if Wash had pulled him, but Ross who is still elated in being in the majors and not riding buses in the minors took his bad outing as a learning experience.
Did Feliz have a breakdown? No, bet he got thrown after hitting Bosch and then no one, NO ONE, tried to calm him down before he began to pitch again. There is where the real fault lies, and that will be addressed in a future article.
Neftali Feliz already proved to the baseball world he was an incredible pitcher, this year he will show the world he is an incredible starting pitcher. One inning will not change this young man.
Shake it off Neftali.
As always go Rangers!
For exciting baseball talk like this all the time follow use on twitter @Nolan_Writin, @RangerFanSteve, @BleacherSeatsTX.
The photo is courtesy of MLB.