Yeah, that was very disappointing. 7 shutout innings from Colby Lewis, only to turn it over to the bullpen and see them -- and in particular, Neftali Feliz -- completely blow it hurts.
My initial reaction was that, well, Washington brought Feliz back after using him for 30+ pitches and 2 innings the night before, so what do you expect to happen? Feliz has now pitched on back-to-back days after logging 2 innings in the first of the two outings twice, and he's ended up with a blown save and a loss in each of the second games, with a 54.00 ERA (6 runs in one inning of work). So the initial reaction was, that's what you get for bringing him into the game.
That being said...at some point, you want to get a handle on how hard Feliz can be pushed. At some point, you want to have some idea as to how quickly he can bounce back from a heavier workload. I talked last October about how it didn't make much sense to use Feliz for multiple innings, or Cliff Lee on 3 days rest, in the playoffs when you've never asked it of them during the regular season.
Given the state of the bullpen, given that it is a meaningless game against a weak opponent in June, I can understand saying, let's push Neftali (who said before the game he could go), and see how he responds. Better to do that now, and get a better handle on it (and give him some experience in such a situation), than waiting until September, when you're in a pennant race, you're tied for first place with less than a week to go and every game is critical, and you're wondering, "Well, can I get 30 pitches out of Feliz tonight and then bring him back tomorrow?"
I'm now saying it was the right decision, and I'm not even sure if that was the thought process. I am saying that I'm not convinced it was necessarily the wrong decision, and I think there's value in pushing Feliz now, so you better understand how he would respond to that sort of usage come playoff time. If Feliz can't be trusted to pitch after going a couple of innings or 30+ pitches the day before, better to know that now, rather than be wondering about it with the season on the line.
The other thing about Feliz last night was that his command was terrible, and that's why he was hit. Command, as we've discussed, comes from repeating your mechanics, and being able to repeat your mechanics is something that requires your body to be strong. Fatigue impacts your ability to repeat your mechanics, thus hurting your command. Which isn't to definitively say that Feliz was bad last night because he was tired...but it isn't an unreasonable conclusion to reach.
Moving on to the morning links...
T.R. Sullivan's game story has Feliz saying his arm felt fine yesterday, and Colby Lewis talking about the neck spasms that knocked him out after 7 innings.
Richard Durrett has his thoughts on the game at ESPN Dallas.
Behind the paywall, Gerry Fraley writes about Wash's decision to use Feliz last night.
Joey Matches looks at the decision not to have Craig Gentry run for an apparently-ailing Josh Hamilton in the 8th last night, which cost Texas a run, and the decision to bring Feliz back.
Durrett says that Feliz blamed his command, not fatigue, on his bad outing, although as discussed above, the two can go hand in hand.
Anthony Andro writes that, with Tommy Hunter, Darren O'Day, and Scott Feldman all getting close to returning, bullpen jobs are in jeopardy, but Yoshinori Tateyama has pitched well enough to show that he belongs in the majors.
Randy Galloway writes that Nolan Ryan should learn from Mark Cuban and be more willing, and more aggressive, in giving up young players to get proven veterans, and should be more willing to trade prospects at the trade deadline than they have been.
The S-T's notes mention Hunter's struggles out of the minor league pen yesterday, and Darren O'Day and Mike Napoli's progress in returning from injury.
Sullivan's notes include a Hunter update, Michael Young starting at third base yesterday, and Ron Washington having to make All Star selections.