April 11, 2012 in Sports

Feliz mows down M’s in first start

Schuyler Dixon Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Texas’ Neftali Feliz lasted seven innings in his first career major league start.
(Full-size photo)

ARLINGTON, Texas – Blake Beavan felt the butterflies building all day. This was no ordinary game for the Seattle Mariners pitcher.

Beavan pitched into the seventh inning in his first start at his hometown ballpark, but dropped a 1-0 duel against Neftali Feliz and the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.

Feliz, Beavan’s old minor league teammate, tossed seven innings of four-hit ball in his first major league start. The former closer struck out four and walked two while throwing 108 pitches.

Beavan allowed six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out three in the first three innings, then relied on fastball location to coax fly balls and grounders that thwarted Texas threats in fifth and sixth innings.

“It’s something I dreamed about doing ever since I was a little kid watching these games was pitching on that mound,” Beavan said.

Pitching for the first time since blowing a save in Game 6 of the World Series, Feliz watched new closer Joe Nathan finish the job this time. Feliz smiled widely as he accepted congratulations after Nathan’s perfect ninth.

It was a much different scene than the last time Feliz was on the mound in a meaningful game. The right-hander buried his head in his hands in St. Louis after allowing a two-run triple that tied Game 6 when the Rangers were a strike away from winning the championship. The Cardinals won the World Series in seven games.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” Feliz said. “I was hoping for the moment to become a starter in the major leagues and finally it happened. And I thank the Rangers for making that happen.

“And here I am.”

The Rangers could celebrate thanks to David Murphy, who had three of their seven hits and drove in the only run with an infield single in the second inning.

“Murphy swung the bat extremely well and the pitching and defense held it up,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

Seattle had two runners on with two out in the seventh, but Feliz (1-0) got out of it when Miguel Olivo hit a comebacker to the mound. Feliz bobbled the weak grounder and recovered just in time to beat Olivo’s headfirst slide at first.

Justin Smoak singled again to start the seventh, and Jesus Montero had a one-out single to give Seattle its best threat. Smoak was on third when Olivo hit his dribbler back to Feliz.

Beavan (0-1) left after allowing Murphy’s second double and hitting Mike Napoli with a pitch, but Tom Wilhelmsen escaped the jam.

Because of the Mariners’ quirky start with two games in Japan, a return to spring training and two more games in Oakland, Beavan hadn’t pitched since April 1 against the Royals in Arizona.

“I was just glad to get out there … especially being back home pitching,” said Beavan, a former first-round pick by the Rangers who was sent to Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal two years ago. “It was definitely fun to get out there and get the first one out of the way.”

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