Feliz trusting his stuff, bringing serious heat

Feliz trusting his stuff, bringing serious heat

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rangers closer Neftali Feliz said he remembers throwing 98 miles per hour at the end of last season.

Pitching coach Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins don't remember that. They remember the last time Feliz throwing 98 was in 2011, when he was the closer and before his Tommy John surgery in '12.

There was no doubt about it on Sunday afternoon. According to the scoreboard, Feliz was throwing 98 mph to the final two hitters in closing out a 2-1 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Feliz was dealing with runners at first and third and one out after a single by Logan Forsythe, a wild pitch and a single by pinch-hitter James Loney. Feliz had to go through Asdrubal Cabrera and Tim Beckham.

Feliz struck out Cabrera on three straight fastballs.

"The first two pitches, I was trying to get him to hit a ground ball for a double play," Feliz said. "After that, I tried for the strikeout."

Corporan saves a run

Feliz threw a first-pitch slider to Beckham and bounced it in the dirt well outside the strike zone. Catcher Carlos Corporan made a desperate swipe and was able to block the ball. He saved Feliz from a wild pitch and the potential tying run from crossing the plate.

"Tremendous block," manager Jeff Banister said.

"Wow ... wow," Corporan said. "I mean, everybody knows that was a game-saver, but I know what I have to do. I take pride in my defense."

Feliz then threw six straight fastballs and finally got Beckham on a grounder to third to end the game. Feliz had three saves on the Rangers' 5-2 road trip and five for the season.

"His last three games have been outstanding," Maddux said. "He is really letting it go and trusting it. He is also making pitches, not just throwing it hard."

Feliz saved it for Keone Kela, who pitched a scoreless seventh and has three wins in May. Shawn Tolleson pitched a scoreless eighth despite facing a runner at second with one out. Tolleson struck out David DeJesus and retired Steven Souza Jr. on a fly ball to deep right-center.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.