Last night Neftali Feliz blew his fifth save of the season and was yanked in the middle of the ninth inning after giving up three hits and a walk while recording just one out against the Twins.
Even after the poor appearance his ERA stands at a still-impressive 3.35, but he’s already blown more saves than he did all of last season in 18 fewer chances and the rest of Feliz’s numbers have fallen apart as well.
Last year Feliz had 9.2 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings while opponents hit .176 off him. This year Feliz has 6.2 strikeouts and 4.8 walks per nine innings while opponents hit .217 off him.
So his strikeouts are down 33 percent, his walks are up 110 percent, and his opponents’ batting average has risen 40 points. His average fastball velocity is down, but only 0.5 miles per hour, and he’s throwing his fastball the same 82 percent of the time as last year. However, his fastball has been far less effective and his curveball has gone from a major asset to a weakness.
Ron Washington is sticking with Feliz, because as the manager put it last night: “I’ll give him the ball again. There’s not much else I can do.”
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.