The 23-year-old was dominant in the first three innings, getting the talented Detroit Tigers lineup in order. But with one out in the fourth, he hit Brennan Boesch in the elbow with a 95 mph fastball. It was the first baserunner for the Tigers and started to get things going. Feliz bounced back and struck out Miguel Cabrera and got ahead 0-2 on Prince Fielder.
"I was trying not to make a mistake," Feliz said.
In the process, he walked the cleanup hitter, who fouled off a couple of pitches and then laid off a fastball, slider and changeup that were out of the strike zone. The walk started a three-run inning. Delmon Young singled to tie the score. Alex Avila walked on a 3-2, 96 mph fastball and Ramon Santiago hit a single to center to score two more.
"I felt like I lost my command a little bit and couldn't seem to get it back," Feliz said.
But he did manage to get it back after a four-pitch walk to Austin Jackson to lead off the fifth inning. Feliz then retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced, including the final 10 for a complete game. The only problem: Justin Verlander managed to go six innings despite not having his best fastball and the Tigers' bullpen got through the two final, stressful innings to secure the 3-2 victory.
"I thought he showed his maturity after that," manager Ron Washington said. "Once he hit Boesch, you can't say he was rattled because he came back and struck out Cabrera. And Fielder fought for that at-bat."
It was just the Rangers' third loss of the season (12-3) and all three have been by one run. It was only the second time in 15 games that Texas scored fewer than three runs (the other time was a 1-0 win over Seattle in Feliz's debut.
"We didn't lose; we got beat," Washington said. "You lose when you throw the ball around, boot the ball and all of that type stuff. No, they beat us. We can take that and come back tomorrow."
Saturday's second game of a day-night doubleheader had a bit of everything: great pitching, timely hitting and dramatic, late-inning situations. The Rangers scored a run in the eighth on a terrific at-bat by David Murphy, who poked a two-strike changeup from Joaquin Benoit to left for the RBI. Then, with two on and two outs in the ninth, Josh Hamilton came to the plate against Jose Valverde. Hamilton struck out to end the game. He had four strikeouts Saturday night.
"I just did the best I could in that spot," said Hamilton, who was the DH. "I haven't had a lot of success there [at DH] in the past, but I gave it what I had. It isn't the first time I struck out four times and it won't be the last."
Hamilton was a .272 hitter as a DH coming into the game.
"I thought it was a heck of a baseball game," Washington said. "We had a few opportunities and only cashed one of them in."
Washington praised his starting pitcher, adding that if Feliz keeps pitching like that, he'll win plenty of games.
"Three runs we still felt good, we just couldn't make it up," Washington said. "At the end of the game we had the right guy up in the right situation and they got out of it. Good ballgame."