Neftali Feliz got the ball in the 9th inning and, after a little bite-your-fingernails nervousness, wiggled out of a jam and closed the door for a win.
Then: His save on Oct. 24, 2011 won Game 5 of the World Series.
Now: His save Friday night improved Texas’ record to 41-62.
What has happened to the Rangers since Feliz’ last previous save in ’11 has been fit for a Stephen King novel. They infamously blew Game 6 despite twice being within one strike of the championship. Then went on to lose Game 7, lose the Wild Card playoff game the next season, miss the post-season the next and now are one of baseball’s worst teams. In that time they’ve lost C.J. Wilson, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, David Murphy, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz and even Nolan Ryan.
Yeah, it’s been that hideous. From almost first, to almost worst, in three short years that somehow make 2011 feel like 30 seasons ago.
It was good to see Feliz as the closer, even if it came as a default move in the wake of the trading away of Joakim Soria. But as I watched Friday night it was a sad scene. Feliz struggling to close out the A’s. Fans standing and cheering. At … what?
A franchise on the brink of greatness is now reduced to being ecstatic at sneaking one of three games at home against Oakland. And Feliz – who produced one of the franchise’s all-time best moments by striking out A-Rod to clinch a spot in the 2010 World Series – has slid from an elite pitcher with nasty, 100-mph stuff to an average, surgically-repaired arm that lives in the low 90s and has a resume as a failed starter.
The Rangers’ season is kaput. Their next exciting event will be pitchers and catchers reporting in February 2015.
At this low point, even the reminders they provide are bittersweet.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.