ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's easy to forget that Neftali Feliz is 22 years old. He's handle the closer's job like a veteran for much of the season. But last night (actually, early this morning) was a learning experience for him.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the 9th inning, Feliz went away from his bread and butter -- his electric fastball -- and threw a changeup to Corey Patterson, who blasted it into the seats in right to tie the game with a grand slam. The Orioles won it in the 10th.
Manager Ron Washington didn't find fault with the pitch selection. What bothered him was the location.
"If that pitch is down, he gets him out," Washington said. "But it was in the same spot where he had fouled off those fastballs, so he was ready and turned on it."
Catcher Bengie Molina said it was a learning experience for him too. Molina wanted Feliz to throw a fastball high and in, but Feliz shook him off. Molina said he doesn't know Feliz well enough yet to know if he'd had success in those types of situations with his changeup. Molina added he isn't afraid to go tell a guy that he isn't throwing a certain pitch.
"I'm going to sit with him and talk about it and pick his brain," Molina said. "He'll bounce back and be fine. You have to learn from those kinds of things. Both of us will."
My opinion (for those that care): Feliz is the closer because he throws his fastball at 100 mph. If the bases are loaded and you need an out to save the game, go with your best pitch. But that's just me.
* Rich Harden is set for a rehab assignment, although the details haven't been finalized. The likely scenario is he pitches before or after Doug Mathis in Round Rock with Triple-A Oklahoma City tomorrow.
* Washington felt like David Murphy was better suited in the lineup on Saturday, so Nelson Cruz is not starting. Washington still feels Cruz doesn't have his timing down at the plate. "He has to keep facing live pitching," Washington said. "Sometimes the game finds you when you're struggling."
That seems to be the case for Cruz. He has had opportunities the last week with runners in scoring position and hasn't taken advantage of many of them.
* One thing Washington likes about Chris Davis is that he's a better overall defender at first base than Justin Smoak. Washington said that doesn't take anything away from Smoak, who is young and still learning. But Davis' footwork is quicker and he has good hands. "He's one of the best [defensive] first baseman in the league," Washington said.
* Davis will get his chances against lefties. He hit .411 in 56 at-bats against lefties in Triple-A. Washington said sometimes he'll put Joaquin Arias in the lineup to start the game against a lefty and then put Davis in once the starter is out.