I saw the “Feliz won’t be saved for saves” headline on ESPNDallas.com and thought maybe Rangers manager Ron Washington had finally figured out how to get value out of closer Neftali Feliz in non-save situations after repeatedly leaving him in the bullpen in key non-save moments throughout the playoffs.
Turns out, it’s just more of the same with a clever-looking headline, as Randy Jennings reports that Washington has now taken to using Feliz to close out four-run leads.
As the manager explained: “I’m trying to win a game. … I’m going to get the ball to him and let’s go home.”
Washington has yet to show that he’ll find more work for Feliz by bringing him into, say, a tie game or game in which the Rangers trail by one run–you know, the crucial non-save situations that can decide a game–but is now using him in even lower-leverage spots. I’m sure the Rangers’ winning percentage with a four-run lead in the ninth inning will skyrocket from 99.4 percent to 99.6 percent, though.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.