Sure, Neftali Feliz completely shut down the Seattle Mariners in his first career start as big leaguer, going seven shutout innings. But Feliz always shuts down the Mariners, as there's no team in the league that he's pitched better against in his career as a closer. And let's face it, the Mariners lineup is more of a Triple-A lineup than the big league variety.
That made Feliz's start on Saturday against the Detroit Tigers, in the Texas Rangers' personal hell of Comerica Park, the first really big test of his brief stint as a starting pitcher. And he passed, with flying colors.
Feliz was perfect through three innings, before things starting falling apart in the fourth inning, when the Tigers pushed three runs across the plate as Feliz got in trouble with his wildness, walking a season-high four in the game. The Tigers' lineup, which might be the best in baseball behind the Rangers, made him pay and he had a bad inning.
But Feliz bounced back to pitch four shutout innings and keep the Rangers in the game against Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who won the Cy Young Award and the AL MVP last season. He gave the Rangers bullpen a day off, pitching the 8-inning complete game in the losing effort.
To lose is never good, but to lose to one of the better teams in the league by one run in a matchup of your No. 5 starter and the other team's, and maybe the league's ultimate, ace.
Feliz might have taken the first loss by a Rangers starter this season, but it was one of the better games a pitcher has had this year.