Seattle Mariners: Struggles Against Neftali Feliz Continue
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It's no secret that Neftali Feliz was a dominant closer; just ask the Seattle Mariners. Over his first three seasons, Feliz held the M's hitless, going 0-48 with four walks and 21 strikeouts. That is the absolute definition of owning a team.
However, it's a new season and Feliz finds himself in a different role. Having converted from a closer to a starter, the Mariners would have plenty of chances to rough him up in his first career start. They had success early and often the night before in Yu Darvish's debut and were hoping to see similar results in the second game of the series. Feliz had other ideas.
Though the game started out similar to the night before with a walk to Figgins, an Ackley out, and Ichiro reaching base via a walk, Feliz escaped unscathed with a double-play ball from former Ranger Justin Smoak. This extended the hitless streak to 0-50. Good sign for Texas, not so good for their opposition.
Two more innings passed and Feliz cruised through recording four strikeouts from the six batters he faced. Then the top of the fourth rolled along, and he got Ackley and Ichiro out once again. Then it happened. After an unimaginable 0-58 streak for his team, Justin Smoak came through with a single on a 2-2 count. Holding a team hitless for its first 58 at bats is the longest hitless streak for a team at the start of a career in the expansion era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The streak was finally over, but unfortunately the dominance still remained intact. Feliz allowed three more hits after that, but none did any damage. His final line was 7 IP, 108 pitches, 4 hits, and 2 walks.
The Mariners fell 1-0 despite an outstanding performance by their own starter Blake Beavan. The team now knows that Feliz is at least hittable, so next time we might even see them put a run across the plate against the young star.
Seattle has had it tough its first two nights in Texas having two potential superstars in their Major League debuts as starters, so there is no reason to hang their heads. It's always tough to face a pitcher for the first time, so in the future, plan to see production and much more of it from this lineup.
*Stats are from MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com, and ESPN.com.
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