Neftali Feliz: Nerves? What nerves?

April, 12, 2010
4/12/10
6:18
PM CT
CLEVELAND -- Rangers closer -- yes, closer -- Neftali Feliz earned his first save of the season on Monday, blowing 100- to 102-mph fastballs by catcher Mike Redmond, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and center fielder Michael Brantley to preserve a 4-2 Rangers win in 10 innings.

[+] EnlargeNeftali Feliz
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesIn his first save opportunity, Neftali Feliz hit 102 on the radar gun and set the Indians down in order.
The batters weren't the only ones having trouble catching up to Feliz's heat.

"I can't catch it when it's not in the vicinity," said catcher Taylor Teagarden about the 102 mph fastballs. "I let two balls go to the backstop and I told the umpire, 'I'm trying to catch those, but they're at 101.' There's just extra life when the ball comes to you. You can almost hear it when it comes to you."

Feliz, of course, mixed in his curve and changeup to make the hard stuff even more effective. He was calm and collected when trying to get the final three outs of the game on the road in Cleveland's home opener. When asked if he was nervous, Feliz shook his head and said, 'No'.

"I'm already past that," said Feliz, through translator Julio Borbon. "I've been in situations similar. It's the same mentality: Just attack the hitters and work the count."

Feliz said it doesn't matter to him if this is the beginning of a long career as a closer or if he one day starts.

"Whatever keeps me playing," Feliz said.

Manager Ron Washington was sure pleased with how his young closer -- promoted after Frank Francisco blew two saves over the weekend -- did in his debut in the role.

"I was so glad he was able to get Brantley because I didn't want to see [Shin Soo] Choo up there," said Washington. Choo was 3-for-3 with two runs scored, including a homer, but was on deck when the game ended. "He was out there under control. I didn't see any nerves. I just saw a guy out there doing what he does -- throw the baseball. He got us the three outs we needed."

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.18 133 170
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182