The Neftali Feliz problem has come to this for the Rangers. To win a game Sunday, manager Ron Washington had to get Feliz out of the game. Feliz, the closer who has fallen on hard times, put the Rangers behind by one run in the ninth inning and was in danger of giving up more when Washington pulled the plug. Feliz left Washington with no choice. "It didn't look like he was getting it done," said Washington, with an air of resignation in his voice. The move worked. Arthur Rhodes retired No. 3 hitter Eric Hosmer, who homered against Feliz last week, with a runner on base. Nelson Cruz's homer and Mike Napoli's mad dash to score from first base on a single gave the Rangers a 7-6 comeback win against Kansas City at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "With the way this game was going, you knew it would end on something crazy," said third-base coach Dave Anderson, who sent Napoli. The win served as a fitting send-off for a club about to play 17 of its next 20 games on the road. The question for the Rangers is whether they can count on Feliz in end-game situations. Feliz, who has been on the disabled list because of shoulder inflammation, repeated that his health is fine, but he did wear a sleeve favored by sore-armed pitchers before the game. Washington said Feliz is in a slump. "We've got to keep giving him the ball until that one day he goes out there and everything falls into place and we can move forward," Washington said. Michael Young, given the freedom to swing on a 3-0 pitch, tied the score at 5-5 with a two-run homer in the eighth. Washington had Feliz open the ninth, and he immediately got into trouble. Chris Getz, hitting .229, led off with a double and took third on Cruz's error in right. Feliz could not get a needed strikeout of the No. 9 hitter, Alcides Escobar. He drove in the tying run with a fly ball to deep left. Feliz is missing few bats. He has only three strikeouts in his last 101/3 innings. That is the strikeout rate of a soft-tosser, not a top-of-the-line closer. "Location," was all Washington said when asked about Feliz's pitches. Cruz's homer cleaned up Feliz's mess. Napoli's alertness won the game. Napoli reached on a single. Joakim Soria, another struggling closer, paid little attention to Napoli and continued to use a high leg kick from the stretch. That allows the runner to get a big jump, which became vital.
To win, Rangers manager made tough call: Pull closer Neftali Feliz
Dallas Morning News | May 30