10/28/11 6:25 PM ET
Wash discusses pinch-hitting decisions
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Feliz will get ball in ninth inning, Wash says
ST. LOUIS -- If the Rangers have a lead in the ninth on Friday night, Neftali Feliz will get the baseball.Manager Ron Washington, speaking before Game 7, said he's still planning to use Feliz as his closer one day after Feliz gave up a two-run triple to David Freese in the ninth inning of Game 6. The Rangers ended up losing, 10-9, after handing Feliz a 7-5 lead. It was Feliz's first blown save of the postseason. "Mentally, he walked in and was fine today," Washington said. "We've seen him do that before, and we got out of it. Last night, it didn't work out. Sometimes he gets erratic with his command. If we have a chance today, he is going to be my guy.
"He's very stable. We certainly didn't have to put a respirator on him. We didn't have to shock his heart back. In this game, there will be days when you don't have good days, and I think if you talked to Neftali last night, he didn't feel like it was a good day. My part, if we are in the position tonight to shut it down, I'm giving it to Neftali, and I expect him to close the ballgame down."
Feliz struck out Ryan Theriot to start the inning but gave up a double to Albert Pujols and a walk to Lance Berkman. Allen Craig struck out, but Freese hit a 1-2 fastball off the right-field fence for a two-run triple just beyond the reach of right fielder Nelson Cruz. Washington said the ball should have been caught. Washington also said Cruz was playing deep enough."When that ball was hit, it was like a line drive," Washington said. "Cruz froze and couldn't make it up. If he broke on the ball properly, he would have been at the wall and caught it." Feliz, after retiring Yadier Molina on a fly to right, threw 22 pitches in the ninth, and Washington decided not to bring him back for the 10th. The Cardinals had two left-handers leading off the inning, so Washington brought in Darren Oliver. But Washington didn't like what he saw with Feliz. "His body language and everything didn't look good," Washington said. "Plus, everything matched up good with Ollie."
Rangers hold pair of meetings before Game 7
ST. LOUIS -- Rangers manager Ron Washington met with his players briefly after their 10-9 loss in Game 6 on Thursday night and had another before Game 7."It's not rah-rah, it's just matter-of-fact," Washington said. "This is what we've played for all year, and the prize is within our reach. We've bounced back from tough defeats before. Last night was tough, and we'll bounce back. We'll still have fun and play our game." Washington talked to the players, then they went around the room, and a number of players, including Michael Young, spoke up, psyching each other up and getting each other ready for the game.
"Last night was very exciting, a lot of highs and lows," Washington said. "People got to see two champions going after it. We didn't quit, they didn't quit, they just got the final blow."Washington said everybody but Colby Lewis would be available in the bullpen, including Derek Holland who threw 23 pitches in relief in Game 6. But Washington said C.J. Wilson will likely be the first guy out of the bullpen behind Matt Harrison. Washington's biggest concern in the bullpen is Alexi Ogando, who was so effective in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Ogando has struggled in the World Series, allowing four runs on seven hits and seven walks in 2 1/3 innings. He faced two batters in Game 6 and walked them both. "He just wasn't able to throw the ball in the strike zone," Washington said. "The numbers said he had good velocity. He just wasn't commanding the baseball."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.