ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Rangers closer Neftali Feliz was clearly nervous and a bit out of sorts after walking the first two batters of the ninth inning in a 5-1 game.
Pitching coach Mike Maddux came out to the mound to try to calm his pitcher.
"I went out there and in my Spanglish and told him what I needed to, and Bengie kicked into true Spanish and I left," Maddux said. "Bengie had a big game behind the plate and the way he handled Feliz there in the ninth was paramount to the game. They had a little something going on."
Molina was pretty emphatic with the rookie closer.
"I told him, 'You're not a thrower, you're a pitcher,'" Molina said. "He wasn't relaxed and pitching the way he can. I was trying to relax him."
Feliz admitted he had butterflies taking the mound in his first playoff game. He was also bothered by the mound. There was a bit of a hole where his lead leg was landing.
"Like everyone else, I was nervous," Feliz said. "I knew I had to go. It's still baseball."
Feliz walked two batters for the first time since June. But after his chat with Maddux (Feliz said Maddux speaks OK Spanish, BTW) and Molina, Feliz calmed down. He got Ben Zobrist, Kelly Shoppach and Sean Rodriguez to end the game.
"I'll be fine the next time [I pitch]," Feliz said about his nerves.