Extra Bases: Feliz finding his groove

ARLINGTON, Texas – On Wednesday afternoon in South Beach, Neftali Feliz was trying to close the door for the Texas Rangers in the back end of a two-game series with the Miami Marlins.

He gave up two home runs, but his velocity was in the mid-90s and he did earn the save, his fifth of the year. Feliz is starting to find a nice little groove in his return as the Rangers' closer.

“All that matters is to win the game,” Feliz said. “The more I’m throwing, the better my arm feels.”

Feliz said his arm is getting stronger by the day and it’s the best he’s felt since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August of 2012.

When he returned, the blazing fastball he once had was gone. Manager Ron Washington noted that Feliz needed to become more of a finesse pitcher instead of relying mostly on his fastball. Feliz still says the fastball remains his best pitch and will use it to get ahead of hitters and then follow it up with his offspeed pitches.

“I'd take the 97-98 miles per hour again. I’d be happy,” Feliz said. “I try to focus on the other pitches and get people out. My fastball is my best pitch.”

Tepesch growing up: Washington is pretty proud of how some of his young pitchers are progressing. Namely, Nick Tepesch.

“[He's] growing up,” Washington said of the 25-year old righty who will pitch Saturday night against the Royals.

Tepesch, a Kansas City native, is coming off consecutive no-decisions where the Rangers earned walkoff victories. Over his last three starts, Tepesch has posted a 1.83 ERA over 19 2/3 innings.

“He’s really using his pitches well and learning his sequences and really taking charge of what he does out there on the mound,” Washington said. “When things get a little rough, stepping back behind the mound and thinking about what he has to do. Going to execute more than anything, execute, that’s the key. Keep his slider down and using his changeup, throwing inside with his fastball, spotting his fastball down and away.”

Base Hits: Washington will manage a team of big league All-Stars in November against the Japan National Team in a five-game exhibition series. Washington said he will take pitching coach Mike Maddux with him on the trip. ... 3B Adrian Beltre has a 15-game hit streak against the Royals. He's hitting .396 in 23 games against K.C. ... OF Daniel Robertson had a pinch-hit RBI double Friday night. Robertson is now 4-for-7 as a pinch hitter with two RBIs.