Feliz, bullpen lights-out for Rangers
Closer, righty O'Day shut down Giants late in Game 3
ARLINGTON -- With the Rangers clinging to a two-run lead, a man on first and Giants catcher Buster Posey at the plate, reliever Darren O'Day couldn't agree with catcher Bengie Molina. The right-hander twice shook off three different Molina pitch suggestions, and the two finally met on the mound.
"I had an idea of what I wanted to throw, and he had a better idea of what I wanted to throw," O'Day said of Molina. "So, we went with him."
"It was just the location of that pitch," Molina said. "He just wanted to throw an inside slider. I told him, 'Listen, you do or die away. Make him hit the ball the other way if he wants to hit it. I think it's the best idea.'"
They reached a decision, and the result was exactly what O'Day and Molina wanted.
O'Day threw a 3-2 slider on the outer half of the plate, and Posey, representing the tying run with two outs in the eighth, grounded out weakly to shortstop. That paved the way for Neftali Feliz's 1-2-3 ninth and a 4-2 Rangers victory in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday night. San Francisco leads the Series, 2-1.
"I have a lot of faith in Bengie," O'Day, who relieved Colby Lewis with one on and two out in the eighth, said. "He's been catching since I was learning state capitals, and he was on that team. So he knows what I should be doing, probably better than I do."
Molina, 36, would be in position to know. He began the season as the Giants' catcher and shared the position with Posey before a July 1 trade sent him to Texas.
Feliz, who hadn't pitched since clinching the American League pennant on Oct. 22, threw like a man who had seven days of rest. Of his 13 pitches, 12 were fastballs and 10 were strikes.
"He looked pretty good to me," O'Day said. "They're going to have to get their bats started. He's throwing pretty dang hard. If he's throwing strikes, he's pretty much unhittable."
|Bob Welch||10/11/1978||L.A.||NYY||21 y, 342 d|
|Neftali Feliz||10/30/2010||Tex.||S.F.||22 y, 181 d|
|Nolan Ryan||10/14/1969||NYM||Bal.||22 y, 256 d|
After a shaky performance against the Rays in Game 3 of the AL Division Series, Feliz had not been used in close situations during the postseason. Entering Saturday, four of Feliz's five postseason appearances came in games the Rangers led by four or more runs. Texas manager Ron Washington has had chances to turn to Feliz in other games -- including bullpen implosions in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series and Game 2 of the World Series -- but chose not to use his closer.
Feliz had 40 saves and a 2.73 ERA during the regular season, and he looked the part on Saturday.
"I felt good like I feel every day," Feliz said. "My velocity was there, and that's the least of it. I felt good, and I was able to dominate the strike zone early."
Feliz, who had earlier admitted to nerves in his first postseason appearance, did not feel any ill effects from the layoff. He was the last of the 14 relievers on both rosters to appear in a game this series.
"I feel prepared," Feliz said. "The first time, I felt nervous, but I feel good and I feel prepared when they give me the opportunity."
"His eye contact was good -- you could see how comfortable he was," shorstop Elvis Andrus said. "I told him to be aggressive with his first pitch. When he gets ahead in the count and throws that 98-mph fastball, he's tough to hit. That's the way he was tonight."
At 22 years and 181 days old, Feliz became the second-youngest pitcher to record a save in World Series history. Only the Dodgers' Bob Welch, who was 21 days and 342 days old when he closed out Game 2 of the 1978 World Series, was younger. Nolan Ryan, the Rangers' president, had been the second-youngest. He was 75 days older than Feliz when he saved Game 2 of the 1969 World Series.
The Rangers' bullpen, an asset all season long, was uncharacteristically poor in the eighth inning of Game 2. By the time its work was done, a 2-0 deficit had turned into a 9-0 laugher. Saturday's performance turned out better.
"It's tough sitting on a bad performance," O'Day said. "It was exciting to get back out there and get back on the mound. We're more than happy to have Colby go nine, but if they need us, we're there.
"We hadn't thrown like we wanted to. We know what we're capable of. We've been a strength of this team all year. One of many strengths. I think we'll continue to bet that way."
Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.