Neftali Feliz remains an enigma to the Texas Rangers, who need a closer for 2015 and want it to be Feliz.
He might have taken a step toward that Wednesday afternoon.
The right-hander was in the process of blowing a save in the ninth inning, having allowed two solo homers and a two-out walk to put the potential tying run at first base, when manager Ron Washington came to the mound with his hook in tow.
But something that usually doesn’t happen happened: Feliz convinced Washington not to make a pitching change. Feliz then struck out Donovan Solano, throwing no pitch slower than 95 mph, to secure a 5-4 Rangers victory.
In the process, Feliz left a favorable impression on Washington.
“I told him I was about to take him out,” Washington said. “He said, ‘Give me one more hitter.’ And he said it like he meant it, so I gave him one more hitter. Plus, he’s my closer.
“After I walked off that mound, he certainly went and found something we haven’t seen before. Hopefully that lets him know that it’s in there. I saw 96 a couple times. It’s just a matter of Neffy trusting his arm and letting it go.”
Feliz said that the wasn’t fired up by Washington, but was grateful for the confidence Washington showed in letting him try to close out the win. The result was more velocity.
“I just felt I needed to step up and let loose, and I did,” Feliz said. “Of course, it was important. That’s my job to close games. When I get the chance, I want them to have confidence in me in those situations.”