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Reaction: Double plays help Neftali Feliz

3/14/2012

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitcher Neftali Feliz said his outing Wednesday went better than his first Cactus League start.

With the help of four big defensive plays during his three innings on the mound, Feliz allowed just one run in a 6-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

Feliz said he had better control of his pitches and was more comfortable on the mound. He struck out two in a 1-2-3 first inning. Second baseman Marco Scutaro nearly got extra bases off Feliz, but Josh Hamilton made a leaping grab near the left-field wall to record the second out.

After he chalked up his third and final strikeout on designated hitter Jason Giambi to start the second, Feliz's outing got a bit rough. He gave up three of his four hits Wednesday in consecutive at-bats. First baseman Todd Helton and catcher Jordan Pacheco had back-to-back doubles. Helton scored on Pacheco's double and outfielder Tyler Colvin's single on the next at-bat put men on the corners with one out.

Feliz got third baseman Brendan Harris to put a ground ball in play on a changeup outside. Second baseman Ian Kinsler flipped it to shortstop Elvis Andrus covering second, who threw it to first baseman Mitch Moreland for the double play.

"It just goes to show you he can throw the ball in the bottom part of the zone and get those ground balls into double plays," manager Ron Washington said.

Left fielder Tim Wheeler got good contact on Feliz's fastball to start the third, but Nelson Cruz made a nice catch near the right-field wall for the out.

Following a single by Eric Young Jr. and a walk to Scutaro, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki grounded out to Andrus on a fastball down in the zone for a 6-4-3 double play.

"He went out there and once again used the whole strike zone and used all of his pitches," Washington said.

Feliz said he hit his spots Wednesday on all four of his pitches -- changeup, slider curveball and fastball.

"I’m really working on my location and not worried about the velocity of my pitches because I know it will come later," Feliz said. "It’s still early. I have to work on my location and breaking pitches."

Other observations:

Hamilton out: Josh Hamilton left the game with a jammed right heel in the second inning. Hamilton suffered the injury chasing down Todd Helton's double in the second inning. He's listed as day-to-day. You can read more about his injury and Craig Gentry's sprained left wrist here.

Kinsler returns: Ian Kinsler was 2-for-3 in his return Wednesday. He drove in the team's only run in the third inning on a single. Defensively, Kinsler was a part of both double plays.

Kinsler missed three games with mild stiffness in his lower back. He said his back is still a little tight but that it's something he can work through.

"When I’m out there playing, it’s really not bothering me too much," Kinsler said. "It’s mostly sitting and getting up. When it first started acting up, it really hurt me when I was out on the field with quick movements and stuff. It's fine now, way more manageable."