ARLINGTON -- Neftali Feliz is still confident, and he is still the team's closer, manager Ron Washington said before Thursday's game and before the Rangers head off for their first American League West road trip against Seattle and Oakland.
Washington said nothing has changed with the club's situation at closer even though Feliz struggled again in Wednesday's 6-5 victory over the White Sox, allowing two runs.
Also, Frank Francisco was warming up in the bullpen with the tying run on first. Washington said Francisco would have come into the game had Feliz not retired White Sox leadoff hitter Juan Pierre.
Feliz blew his first save in last Friday's win over Detroit; then, pitching in back-to-back games for the first time, he gave up home runs to Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Inge in a tie game in the ninth inning Monday against Detroit. Then came Wednesday's harrowing save, his third of the season.
"Things haven't been good for me but things are good," Feliz said. "Nothing is wrong with me. Sometimes it's my pitch location. Sometimes I miss my pitch location."
Feliz was asked if there's reason to be concerned with his fastball dropping under 100 mph to 95 to 97 in his recent outings. He compared himself to Detroit's hard-throwing reliever Joel Zumaya, whose velocity dropped in that same Monday game.
"It's not going to be 100 mph every day," Feliz said. "Zumaya wasn't doing it either. I try to do as much as I can do to help the team win. It's tough to do [throw 100] every day."
Smoak smokes first Major League homer
ARLINGTON -- Justin Smoak is glad to have his first Major League home run out of the way.
The moment came in the bottom of the fourth Thursday when Smoak crushed a drive 410 feet into the home run porch in right field at Rangers Ballpark for a 3-1 lead. He hit it off White Sox starter Gavin Floyd on a fastball, middle in.
"It feels great," Smoak said. "It's a good moment. It's good to get it over with."
Smoak's first homer was a by-product of productive at-bats despite entering Thursday's game 1-for-15 to begin his Major League career. Smoak saw an average of five pitches per at-bat in Wednesday's 6-5 win.
His homer came on a 1-0 pitch, but willingness to take a walk -- he already has seven -- set the tone for Thursday's 2-for-4 performance that included an RBI double in the bottom of the ninth.
"I'm feeling confident at the plate," Smoak said. "That's the biggest thing."
Borbon sticking in No. 9 spot
ARLINGTON -- The move from the leadoff spot to the No. 9 hole in the Rangers' lineup has done wonders for center fielder Julio Borbon, so manager Ron Washington isn't about to change it.
"I'm going to leave Julio where he is," Washington said Thursday.
Borbon is batting .310 (9-for-29) since making the move to the bottom of the batting order. The second-year center fielder is closing in on the .200 mark after opening the season in a 3-for-37 slump. Borbon entered Thursday batting .185.
Roster move pending for Rangers
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers will wait and make a roster move for returning second baseman Ian Kinsler when they get to Safeco Field in Seattle on Friday.
There is likely to be a disabled-list move. Shortstop Elvis Andrus (calf), second baseman Joaquin Arias (back) and reliever Darren O'Day (back) are all possiblities to go on the 15-day DL.
Shortstop Elvis Andrus had the day off Thusday and Andres Blanco was in the lineup at shortstop. Second baseman Joaquin Arias was in the leadoff spot. ... Max Ramirez got his first start at catcher since being called up Tuesday night. Ramirez caught Scott Feldman, and his charge since he got here was to stay in Feldman's back pocket and find out what he wanted to do. Ramirez is the Rangers' fourth starting catcher this season, matching their total for all of last season. ... Thursday was manager Ron Washington's 58th birthday. ... The Rangers are in a stretch of playing 20 consecutive days. They'll go from April 20 to May 9 without a day off.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.