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."
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jerome Williams pitched six solid innings while becoming the team-record 31st pitcher used this season by the Texas Rangers, and they beat AL West-leading Oakland 4-1 on Friday night.
Elvis Andrus had a triple among his two hits and scored twice for the Rangers, who had lost their seven previous home games in July and were coming off a 2-5 road trip out of the All-Star break.
Neftali Feliz, back in the closer role after Joakim Soria was traded to Detroit earlier this week, worked a scoreless ninth while giving up a hit and a walk for his first regular-season save since 2011. His last opportunity, before moving to the rotation and then getting hurt, was a blown save in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series against St. Louis.
The Athletics still have the best record in the majors at 63-39, and they have a 22 1-2-game division lead over last-place Texas, which has won only six of its last 33 games.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- On a given night, the team with the worst record in the major leagues can beat the team with the best record.
It happened Friday before 35,582 at Globe Life Park, a 4-1 Texas Rangers victory over the mighty Oakland Athletics.
Texas, winless at home since June 28, snapped an eight-game home losing streak.
Neftali Feliz, back in the closer's role following the trade of Joakim Soria, nailed it down in the ninth with his first save of the season. But not before Oakland put two aboard and had the potential tying run at the plate.
A few observations:
Surprise, surprise: The combination of Jerome Williams' untidy pitching stats this season and the Athletics’ high-scoring offense might lead one to believe maybe Friday’s game should have been promoted as “cover-your-eyes blindfold night."
Not the case at all. The 32-year-old right-hander cut loose by the Astros on July 8 pitched superbly, retiring 11 in a row at one point.
Williams gave Rangers manager Ron Washington six strong innings. He did not issue a walk and allowed just one run on five hits. At the very least, Williams put himself in consideration for another start.
Long overdue: J.P. Arencibia staked the Rangers to a 1-0 lead with an RBI single to left in the second inning. Since scoring three runs in the sixth inning of a 4-2 victory over the Yankees on Monday, the Rangers came into the Friday’s game with 24 hits, two of which were solo homers by Arencibia. Of the team's other 22 hits, only one produced an RBI -- that a bloop single by Elvis Andrus in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Yankees.
Maybe clutch hitting is contagious. In the third, Alex Rios followed up Andrus’ two-out triple with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
Well placed: Adrian Beltre backed Athletics left fielder Brandon Moss to the wall to haul down his 380-foot drive in the first inning with a teammate aboard. In the sixth, Beltre looped one about half the distance into center field for an RBI single to increase the Rangers' lead to 3-1. An errant throw to the plate by Athletics center fielder Yoenis Cespedes set up a fourth Texas run on Jim Adduci's sacrifice fly.
One-game series, anyone? All three Rangers wins since the All-Star break have come in series openers.
Mendez firing: Rangers reliever Roman Mendez, appearing in his seventh major league game on Friday, still has not allowed a run after retiring Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris on pop-ups in the seventh inning. His scoreless string now covers 10 innings.
Defensive gems: A sliding catch by center fielder Leonys Martin took a hit away from John Jaso in the third inning. ... Beltre’s slick pickup of a one-hop throw from left fielder Adduci erased Jaso, attempting to go from first to third on a single to left. ... Rougned Odor turned in an alert play on the game's final out, recovering to get the ball to Feliz covering first.
Up next: The Rangers and Athletics meet in the second game of the series set for 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Globe Life Park with Texas right-hander Nick Tepesch (3-6, 4.87 ERA) going against Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray (11-3, 2.72 ERA) on ESPN 103.3 FM and Fox Sports Southwest.
Smolinski suffered a bone bruise when he fouled a ball off his foot Monday against the Yankees. He becomes the 23rd Ranger to go on the disabled list this season and one of 13 currently sidelined. Both numbers are major league highs.
Jim Adduci draws the start in left field for Texas for the 7:05 p.m. CT start against the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics at Globe Life Park. The Rangers will try to break an eight-game home losing streak.
In 11 games since promotion from Triple-A Round Rock, Smolinski became a bright spot in a dismal Rangers' stretch of 22 losses in 25 games. He is batting .389 with three doubles and five RBIs and will be eligible to come off the disabled list on Aug. 6.
"It's life in baseball," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It is a tough break, but he has some good company."
Just where Williams, dropped by the Houston Astros on July 8, fits in the Rangers' plans going forward, Washington can't say.
"I'm just telling him to go out and pitch well," Washington said. "You never know. Pitch his game and do well. He's got an opportunity."
When Williams delivers his first pitch, he will be the 52nd player and 31st pitcher used by the Rangers this season. The club record for players is 55 in 2008. He will also be the 13th starting pitcher used by Texas this season.
Washington can recall Williams pitching well against the Rangers.
"I'm hoping it is one of those days he gets to the Oakland A’s," the manager said.
To make room for Williams on the Rangers' 40-man roster, Texas released right-handed pitcher Justin Marks. At Round Rock, Marks was 0-1 with a 5.06 earned run average in 5 1/3 innings. He has been on the disabled list since July 16.
Gone to Cooperstown: Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux will miss the weekend series with the Athletics so he can attend the Hall of Fame induction of younger brother Greg.
Bullpen coach Andy Hawkins will shift to the Rangers' dugout. Round Rock pitching coach Brad Holman will fill in as bullpen coach for the series.
Setting the pace: Oakland, at 63-38, owns the best record in the major leagues. At the opposite end are the Rangers (40-62).
Washington's analysis of the Athletics: "They have a very functional lineup, tremendous starting pitching even though they have lost a couple of guys. A solid bullpen. The No. 1 closer didn't do a good job, but they have filled holes when presented. Right now, they believe in themselves."
Despite the A's strengths, Washington said if the Rangers had stayed healthy and his guys were producing to their capability, "we would have been right there."
In the aftermath of the trade of Joakim Soria to the Detroit Tigers, the Rangers are down to seven players who have been on the active roster the entire season: Elvis Andrus, Robinson Chirinos, Shin-Soo Choo, Neal Cotts, Leonys Martin, Alex Rios and Shawn Tolleson.
In the just-completed seven-game road trip, Elvis Andrus, (6-for-30), Adrian Beltre (5-for-29) and Shin-Soo Choo (5-for-24) failed to produce on a consistent basis. Andrus ended an 0-for-12 slide with a bloop single Thursday against the Yankees.
“I can’t explain it,” Beltre said of the offense. “I don’t get frustrated, and I don’t think guys are pressing. Everybody is doing the best they can. Obviously, it’s not working. Some days we hit and some days we don’t, and we’re not doing it consistently enough.”
Facing Oakland won't make things any easier. Opponents are hitting just .223 over the last 16 games against the A's, who will send out two of their best starters -- Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, both of whom have ERAs under 3.00 -- against the Rangers.
Feliz ready to close: Neftali Feliz was re-anointed as the closer Tuesday after the Rangers traded Joakim Soria to the Tigers for two prospects. Feliz didn’t get an opportunity to close in the series finale against the Yankees, but the Rangers are confident he can secure the ninth inning on a consistent basis. Feliz has lost some velocity on his fastball since undergoing Tommy John surgery and, while he said he’s fully recovered, he’s turned into more of a pitcher than someone simply trying to overpower hitters.
“Obviously there’s an extra adrenaline and extra energy with being the closer,” Feliz said. “If they give you any opportunity in any role in that bullpen, I will do my best. Especially being that closer, there’s an extra energy and you have to do your job there, and you can’t do it in any other moment.”
Nadel award: The Rangers will not have radio play-by-play man Eric Nadel on the call. Nadel will be in Cooperstown, N.Y. to receive the 38th Ford C. Frick Award on Saturday.
No Maddux: Pitching coach Mike Maddux will miss the entire series to support his brother, Greg Maddux, a Rangers special assistant, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. Bullpen coach Andy Hawkins will take over for Mike Maddux while he’s gone, and Brad Holman, Round Rock’s Triple-A pitching coach, will serve as bullpen coach.
Here’s a preview:
What’s up with the Rangers?: Well, the same old business lately: Losing. The Rangers lost three of four games to the Yankees in the Bronx to finish 2-5 in their seven-game road trip to start the second half. There is some good news, however. The starting pitching has gotten better, and outside of Yu Darvish's rain-shortened complete-game loss where he went 4 1/3 innings, Colby Lewis (6 1/3), Nick Martinez (5 1/3) and Miles Mikolas (7 1/3) have made it into the sixth inning. That's a trend manager Ron Washington would like to see continue so that the bullpen doesn't wear down.
Oakland is rolling: The A’s are 4-2 since the All-Star break and 23-11 in their last 34 games overall. Starting pitching has been off the charts, and the Rangers will face two of the Athletics' best in RHP Sonny Gray (11-3) on Saturday and LHP Scott Kazmir (11-3) on Sunday. The A’s have scored 87 runs in July, led by Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie and Brandon Moss.
Head-to-head: The A’s lead the season-series 5-4 and are 3-0 at Globe Life Park. Elvis Andrus is hitting .348 and Shin-Soo Choo is at a .357 against Kazmir. Andrus has just one hit in 11 career at-bats against Gray. Adrian Beltre has two hits in seven at-bats against Friday starter Jason Hammel.
Williams gets call: Jerome Williams is scheduled to start Friday for the Rangers. Williams, who was called up from Triple-A Round Rock, hasn’t started a big league game since 2012. He will become the 52nd player and 31st pitcher used by the Rangers this season, both marks being major league highs. Williams has never started against the A's but has posted a 1-0 record with a 5.14 ERA over seven innings in three career relief appearances against them.
Pitching matchups: RHP Williams (1-4, 6.04 with Houston) vs. Jason Hammel (0-2, 9.00 with Oakland and 8-5, 2.95 with Cubs) on Friday; RHP Nick Tepesch (0-1, 4.87) vs. RHP Sonny Gray (11-3, 2.73) on Saturday; Miles Mikolas (1-2, 7.48) vs. Scott Kazmir (11-3, 2.32) on Sunday.
Staying true to his word, a minor league baseball general manager underwent a prostate exam while singing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch on Thursday night in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Andy Milovich, GM of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, pledged to undergo the procedure on the team's Prostate Awareness Night if the Facebook page of local 10-year-old Fallon Emery got roughly 4,000 more likes. Emery was diagnosed with brain cancer in December.
Dr. Glenn Dangi performed the exam in the team's radio booth as cameras filmed Milovich from the neck up for a feed aired live on the scoreboard.
"It wasn't bad," said Milovich, 45, who had never before had the procedure. "The doc was done maybe 15 seconds into the song. I think my next exam is going to be a significant letdown."
Dangi noted the experience was unique.
"I did exams in prisons for three years and New York City for 17 years, and this was a first," he said.
Milovich said he thinks his efforts could help shed the stigma of a prostate exam.
"I had a college friend tell me that what I did inspired him to get his first exam, so hopefully this saves some lives," Milovich said. "The amount of people, who are either prostate-cancer survivors or people who have lost family members to prostate cancer, who have said what tonight meant to them has been overwhelming.
The team gave out 1,000 foam fingers with blue ribbons on it to men age 18 and older who attended the game.
There are more than 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States each year and more than 30,000 men die from it, according to the American Cancer Society.
"Obviously, I'm excited to have Joakim on the team," manager Brad Ausmus said Thursday before the Tigers began a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels. "Anytime you can get help of his caliber, especially at the back end of the bullpen, I don't think there would be a manager who wouldn't be excited about it."
"We gave up a lot, guys that we valued," said Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers' general manager. "But it was a necessity."
The Tigers have been working on improving their bullpen for weeks because closer Joe Nathan has been inconsistent and Joel Hanrahan apparently will not be able to pitch this year. Setup man Joba Chamberlain has been their only reliable reliever.
Soria was 1-3 with a 2.70 ERA, saving 17 games in 19 chances this year with the Rangers. He is 15-18 with a 2.51 ERA and 177 saves in 199 chances over five years with the Kansas City Royals and two in Texas.
The Rangers signed Soria to an $8 million, two-year contract before last season as he was recovering from his second Tommy John surgery. His contract includes a $7 million club option for 2015 with a $500,000 buyout, making him even more attractive to the Tigers.
Soria sounded as if he will be happy with whatever role the Tigers give him. He is joining a franchise aiming for its first World Series championship since 1984 and is leaving a last-place team that has had high hopes dashed by a slew of injuries.
"This is a good feeling," Soria said at his locker in Angel Stadium while accepting welcoming handshakes from several of his new teammates. "I'm grateful to Texas, because they picked me up when I was hurt. So I wish all the best for them. But now I'm in a different family; it's a different feeling. I'm willing to do whatever they want me to do and do whatever it takes to help this team win as many games as we can. My goal is to win the World Series."
Ausmus said Nathan, a six-time All-Star, will remain the closer with Soria starting out as the seventh-inning reliever and Chamberlain staying in his current setup role.
"I'd probably leave Joba in the eighth inning because he's pitched so well there," Ausmus said. "I talked to Joakim about pitching in the eighth if Joba wasn't available and in the ninth if Joe wasn't available. So he was open to help any way he can. He's pitched in all those roles before, so having someone with Joakim's experience in the ninth if Joe can't go is enormous."
Ausmus is grateful for the chance to have two closers with All-Star credentials at his disposal but insisted that Nathan is his guy right now -- although he wouldn't use him more than three days in a row.
"I never saw (Soria) as a threat as a teammate," Nathan said. "He's another great arm that we brought over here. He's a gamer. He's a winner. He wants the baseball and he just loves to compete."
Nathan has struggled at times this season, but not enough to give Ausmus a reason to take him out of the closer role.
"Even though I've done quite a bit in this game, one of those things I've also done is pull myself out of the closer role when I don't feel as if I'm helping the club," Nathan said. "But right now is not one of those instances. I'm definitely throwing the ball with more consistency and getting a lot more swings and misses, which is always a good sign. But with that said, this is Brad's decision."
When the Tigers were considering making a move to add Soria, they asked Nathan and Ian Kinsler
Going into the fifth, Lewis had looked very good. He allowed just one run on two hits and he hit one batter on the pinkie.
6 1/3 innings and was saddled with his eighth loss.
"Came out of my mechanics a little bit," Lewis said after the Rangers' 4-2 loss to the Yankees on Thursday extended their losing streak to three games.
With the score tied, Lewis walked Ichiro Suzuki to start the inning. Francisco Cervelli hit a double down the left-field line, and Ichiro used his speed to score from first. Brendan Ryan bunted Cervelli to third and, after a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner drove in Cervelli with a sacrifice fly to left.
When the inning was over, Lewis had walked three and given up two runs on just one hit; he entered the dugout down 3-1.
"The fifth, just the fifth," manager Ron Washington said of Lewis' one bad inning. "He just got a little light with his command right there, and he came back in the sixth and got 1-2-3 and got the first out in the seventh."
Lewis was done after throwing 87 pitches and should be proud of how he's handled himself in the second half of the year.
On July 10, Lewis allowed a franchise-record 13 runs while giving up 13 hits in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Lewis didn't let that derail his season.
Lewis pitched well to start the second half by going five innings in Toronto and allowing just two runs on eight hits on July 19. Lewis threw 106 pitches and left trailing just 2-0. The Rangers lost 4-1, but the righty said he felt good about his performance.
He just wants to add to it in the second half.
"I definitely feel like my body is starting to come to me," Lewis said. "It was a situation where I missed early, my fastball, they swung the bat, and I was able to mix my pitches early in the count and I was able to go deeper in the ballgame. It's just one of those things, other than a couple of walks."
In four days here, Texas' starting pitching wasn't an issue. Who knows what would have happened if Joakim Soria hadn't blown that save on Tuesday night, or if the Yankee Stadium grounds crew hadn't failed to get the tarp on the field Wednesday? The Rangers, instead of losing three of four to the Yankees, might have at worst a split of this four-game trip. Instead, all they have is more misery.
Lewis hopes he can change course in the final two months of the season.
"I felt I was really strong as the year has gone on," Lewis said "I've gotten stronger, which is great. But August 26, it will be a year out from getting a hip replaced, and I'm looking forward to the second half and helping this ballclub win and looking forward to the future."
Major League Baseball issued a statement Thursday afternoon on why the game was called after nearly a two-hour rain delay where the Yankee Stadium grounds crew had problems getting the tarp onto the field once it started to rain.
“Last night’s game was called because of the sudden onset of extreme rain, which affected the ability of the grounds crew to put the tarp in place. Because no ‘malfunction of a mechanical field device,’ as prescribed in Official Baseball Rule 4.12(a)(3), contributed to the unfortunate circumstances, the game did not meet any criteria to be suspended.
“We trust the judgment of last night’s Umpires, who deemed the field unplayable despite the legitimate effort of the sufficiently-staffed grounds crew to cover it. Because of the condition of the field following the heavy storms, we believe the right decision was made from a player safety standpoint.”
The rule, 4.12 (a) (3) on suspended games states: A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated for any of the following reasons: Light failure or malfunction of a mechanical field device under the control of the home club. (Mechanical field device shall include automatic tarpaulin or water removal equipment.)
Williams was 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA for Triple-A Round Rock. In his last start July 18 vs. Iowa, he allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings of work with three strikeouts in a loss. Opponents are hitting .348 against him with three home runs in 10 1/3 innings.
The move was necessary after the club deemed Nick Tepesch wouldn't be able to start Friday after being used as an emergency reliever in Tuesday night's 14-inning loss to the Yankees.
"We got to keep what we got in the bullpen," manager Ron Washington said. "We signed him (Williams) and take a look at him and he's ready to go."
The Rangers didn't want to insert a reliever into a spot-starting situation. Scott Baker had also been considered a possibility.
Williams was signed by the Rangers on July 11 and assigned to Round Rock after he was released by the Houston Astros. He was 1-4 with a 6.04 ERA as a reliever this season for Houston. In his career, Williams is 43-51 with a 4.45 ERA. His last start came against the Rangers while he was pitching for the Los Angeles Angels in September of 2012. He lost a 6-5 decision.
"He's a (right-hander), can sink the ball pretty good and he can run it in on right-handers, got a good breaking ball and we'll see what he has to offer," Washington said.
The scheduled starters for the weekend will be Tepesch on Saturday and Miles Mikolas on Sunday. Yu Darvish is on target to pitch against the New York Yankees on Monday.
NEW YORK -- Brandon McCarthy threw six more solid innings, fellow newcomer Chase Headley delivered another timely hit and the New York Yankees beat the Texas Rangers 4-2 Thursday for their sixth win in seven games.
Brett Gardner doubled, scored a run and drove in one as the Yankees kept up their push since the All-Star break.
Texas fell to 3-17 in July and dropped 22 games under .500 for the first time since the final week of the 1988 season.
McCarthy improved to 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA in three starts since the Yankees got him in a deal with Arizona earlier this month. He was 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA at the time of the trade.
McCarthy limited Texas to one run and four hits. He struck out five, and fanned Alex Rios to finish off an 11-pitch at-bat that ended the first inning.
NEW YORK – The middle innings did Colby Lewis in Thursday afternoon from Yankee Stadium. And the Rangers right-hander didn’t get enough support in the late innings from his teammates to overcome his issues in a 4-2 loss to the Yankees.
The loss dropped the Rangers to a 40-62 on the season, marking the first time since 1988 that the franchise has dipped 22 games under .500.
What happened?: With the score tied in the fifth, Lewis committed the unallowable, walking Ichiro Suzuki to start the inning. Francisco Cervelli shot a double down the left-field line, and Ichiro used his speed to score all the way from first. Brendan Ryan then bunted Cervelli over to third and, after a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner got Cervelli home with a sacrifice fly to left.
The Rangers cut the deficit to 3-2 on a solo shot from J.P. Arencibia in the seventh, but that’s about as close as the visitors would get.
The road trip: The Rangers finished 2-5 on the road trip, lost their closer (Joakim Soria) to a trade, missed their starting right fielder Alex Rios for three games with a sprained ankle, lost a four hour and 51 minute 14-inning game and another game that was cut short after the grounds crew failed to get the tarp on the field. The Rangers lost three out of four games to the Yankees to conclude the trip. Elvis Andrus (6-for-30), Adrian Beltre (5-for-29) and Shin-Soo Choo (5-for-24) didn't get much going with the bats.
RISP slide: The Rangers were 1-for-12 the last two games with runners in scoring position. Robinson Chirinos hit into a 6-4-3 double play in the third. After Rougned Odor singled, Choo reached on a hit to right-center. Andrus ended an 0-for-12 slide with a bloop single in shallow center to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead and give the Rangers their first hit with runners in scoring postition. Alex Rios ended the inning on a fly ball to right. For the game, the Rangers were 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and 6-for-26 in the four-game series.
What’s next?: The Rangers start a six-game homestand Friday night against AL West rival Oakland. The starter for Friday’s game is undetermined. It was supposed to be Nick Tepesch, but he was scratched Thursday morning when the club decided it was best to protect him after his emergency relief appearance Tuesday night. Expect Scott Baker or a minor league call-up to get the start.