Feliz scores first save since 2011 Series
July, 25, 2014
By Randy Jennings | Special to ESPNDallas.com
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports"It brings back a lot of good memories," Elvis Andrus said of Neftali Feliz coming in to save a Texas win.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- For Texas Rangers fans who remember how important a role Neftali Feliz played in getting the franchise to two World Series, Friday’s 4-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics had a familiar ending.
Needing three outs in the ninth to nail it down, there was Feliz in his familiar No. 30 coming out of the bullpen to record his first save since Game 5 of the 2011 World Series.
It wasn’t stress-free. After getting the dangerous Yoenis Cespedes on a popup, Brandon Moss singled and Josh Donaldson walked to bring the potential tying run to the plate.
Shawn Tolleson started loosening in the Rangers bullpen.
But Feliz quelled the threat, retiring Stephen Vogt on a fly to center and then hustling to first base to take a throw from second baseman Rougned Odor to retire Derek Norris for the final out.
"I’m really happy to get the ball to close and win a game for the Rangers and the fans," Feliz said through an interpreter.
Shortstop Elvis Andrus said seeing Feliz get the final three outs in the ninth inning brought back memories.
"It was great to see him out there in that situation," Andrus said. "I feel confident with him. It brings back a lot of good memories."
Feliz moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation in 2012 but was beset by arm problems. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August of that year and did not return to a major league mound until the final month of the 2013 season.
Feliz failed to make the 25-man roster this spring but worked his way back from Triple-A Round Rock on July 4. When the Rangers dealt Joakim Soria on Wednesday, Feliz was elevated again to the closing role, more than four years after first getting the job in April 2010.
"He got it done," manager Ron Washington said. "He might have had some nerves out there, but he’s familiar with the role. We'll keep giving him the ball and see where it goes."
Before his injury, Feliz was a strikeout pitcher. That doesn’t appear to be the case now.
"He’s not the pitcher he was before he was hurt," Washington said. "But as long as he gets outs, that’s all that matters."
Washington said Tolleson was warming in case Feliz should run up a high pitch count in the ninth.
"This was a pretty big game for us," Andrus said. "We haven’t been playing that well at home. We played a solid game tonight."