Top prospect Feliz shuts down 51s
Neftali Feliz was nifty Thursday night against Las Vegas, but it was the 51s’ defense that lost them the game.
The Texas Rangers’ top prospect used searing heat to dominate Las Vegas for six innings and his Oklahoma RedHawks scored four runs in a mistake-marred ninth to take an 8-5 victory at Cashman Field.
For five innings, fireballing Feliz and 51s starter Fabio Castro – who entered with a 21-inning shutout streak – kept the score low, a 1-0 duel highlighted by contrasting styles.
Feliz was throwing almost all fastballs, with the following consecutive velocities in an at-bat against Jason Lane in the second: 97, 99, 98, 98, 98, 98 and 98. The result was a walk, but it was Feliz’s only base on balls of the night.
“He did a very good job, he’s got a great arm and a nice delivery,” 51s manager Mike Basso said of the righthanded starter who pitches with a very fluid motion.
Castro, meanwhile, attacked the outside corner with 91-MPH fastballs and changeups and curves in the mid-70s to low-80s, using control to increase his scoreless streak to 24 1/3 innings before giving up a solo home run to RedHawks catcher Max Ramirez in the fourth.
“I threw the changeup to [Ramirez], but I got it too high and he took it the other way,” he said. But it was one of the few out-of-place pitches Castro threw until the sixth, when he admitted that he “lost his control” as a pair of leadoff walks and a single loaded the bases with no outs.
Castro stayed on the mound to strike out Brandon Boggs, and was replaced by Dirk Hayhurst, who induced a sure double-play grounder from Jose Vallejo. But 2B Joe Inglett, fresh off the disabled list and admittedly rusty, threw the ball wide of first, allowing two runs to score on the 51s’ 51st error in just forty games.
In the bottom of the sixth, Feliz got into trouble as well, allowing three singles to make the score 3-1 and put the tying runs on for 51s slugger J.P. Arencibia. The top two prospects on each team battled, with Arencibia putting good wood on fastballs clocked at 96 and 99 before Feliz locked him up with an 81-MPH curveball over the plate for strike three. His final line: 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 4 Ks.
The RedHawks’ lead didn’t last, however, as the 51s pulled through against the bullpen and eventually tied the game at 4 in the bottom of the eighth. Their defense then handed the lead right back.
In the top of the ninth, 3B Kevin Howard couldn’t handle a groundball for the 51s’ second error, putting leadoff hitter Joaquin Arias on. After Esteban German faked a bunt attempt and bounced a single by Howard into left field, Nate Gold laid down a bunt that Bill Murphy (0-1) fielded and threw to third, but Arias beat the throw. Instead of taking the easy out at first, Murphy loaded the bases with no outs and a sacrifice fly, single and groundout led to an 8-4 RedHawks lead they would not relinquish.
NOTES: RedHawks OF Julio Borbon bunted for a single to lead off the game to extend his hit streak to ten, a team-high for the season. He finished the game 3-for-5 with a run scored. … Arencibia threw out Borbon trying to steal second in the fifth, the fourth baserunner he has thrown out in 40 attempts against him this year. Arencibia and Borbon were teammates at the University of Tennessee … Redhawks reliever Brian Gordon got the win, his third of the season.