Closing Time: Another messy ninth for Neftali Feliz

Andy Behrens
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Neftali Feliz(notes) picked up a save against the White Sox on Wednesday, but he did it in the messiest possible way. Asked to protect a three-run lead, Feliz allowed three hits, two earned runs and one wild pitch. He struck out no one. Juan Pierre(notes) very nearly extended the inning with an infield hit, but he was out at first base by an eyelash.

The Feliz experiment, which seemed so promising a week ago, can't go on like this much longer. He's given up 10 hits and six runs over his last four innings. According to the team's Website, "The Rangers' closer situation is fluid."

Frank Francisco(notes) has been excellent during Feliz's struggles, having allowed just three hits and one run in seven innings dating back to April 12. He was warming in the bullpen while Feliz was getting hit on Wednesday. Francisco picked up a save against Chicago the night before in a clean, 10-pitch inning. He seems well positioned to reclaim his old role … and lose it again. That's the thing with fluid situations.

Francisco's ownership level has fallen to just 44 percent in Yahoo! leagues. Claim him from the discard pile if you can.

The Rockies and Diamondbacks combined to score 23 runs on Wednesday afternoon, in a game that felt like a 2010 Closing Time best-of compilation: Kelly Johnson(notes) and Chris Young homered, Miguel Olivo(notes) scored two runs, Franklin Morales(notes) struggled, and Juan Gutierrez(notes) earned a save. (No known job change there. Just planned rest for Chad Qualls(notes)).

The actionable news is that Eric Young Jr. hit lead-off for the Rockies for the second straight day. He reached base twice and recorded his second steal of the season. Clint Barmes(notes) has been largely useless thus far (.189/.271/.340), so there's an obvious opportunity for Young. We've had this fire drill before. You should know the deal with EYJ: He swiped 58 bases at Triple-A last season, 46 at Double-A in '08, and 73 at Single-A in '07. Right now he's just three percent owned.

Max Scherzer(notes) has a sketchy history against left-handed hitters (career 1.56 WHIP), and the Twins took full advantage. Jim Thome(notes) went deep in the first, and Scherzer was chased by a parade of singling lefties in the fourth. Nothing like a 14.73 ERA and 2.73 WHIP to wreck your fantasy night.

The Pirates won for the second straight day, again demonstrating that they absolutely own the Brewers. No mas, Doumit. For the details on the Trevor Hoffman(notes) situation, click here. LaTroy Hawkins(notes) appears to be Plan B, based on usage. Carlos Villanueva(notes) is a possibility as well; he has the Ks and the SP-eligibility.
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If it's possible for any closer to give up runs quietly, then that's what Octavio Dotel(notes) has done. He blew a save opportunity on Wednesday, allowing two hits, two walks and one earned run over two innings — and that performance lowered both his ERA and WHIP.

Dotel has allowed 11 earned runs in his past 6.1 innings. He's been scored upon in each of his last six appearances. Evan Meek(notes) is currently the only member of that 'pen putting up useful numbers (14 Ks in 14.0 IP, 1.07 WHIP), though Joel Hanrahan(notes) appears to be next in line for the ninth. No part of this blurb makes me regret paying a little bit extra for saves in 2010.

In fairness to Dotel, it's hard to believe no one (himself included) got a glove on Wednesday's run-scoring single.

Bengie Molina(notes) did his best to keep Buster Posey(notes) in the minors, going 3-for-4 and raising his average to .350. Aubrey Huff(notes), however, went 0-for-4 with three Ks and he left four runners on base. Nate Schierholtz(notes) was a perfect 5-for-5 with three runs scored. His power/speed potential is fairly modest; there's no obvious reason to jump aboard unless you're in a deep set-up.

The Giants managed to lose on a day that Tim Lincecum(notes) went 8.1 innings and struck out 11. Jayson Werth(notes) hit a bases-clearing double off Brian Wilson(notes) in the ninth, costing Lincecum the win. It was not exactly a well-hit ball, but it was ridiculously well-placed. Here's the highlight. Wilson and Ryan Madson(notes) both recorded blown saves in Philly's extra-innings win.

Four starts into his pro career, Cincinnati's Mike Leake(notes) is 2-0 with a 3.25 ERA and 18 Ks in 27.2 innings. Not spectacular stats, fantasy-wise, but that will play in NL-only. Drew Stubbs(notes) showed signs of life for the Reds, going 2-for-4 with a steal.

Too short for a bullet, too big to ignore: Marlon Byrd(notes) made the best accidental play of the day. Video here. When stuff like that is happening, a normal team would find a way to win. Instead, the Cubs lost to the Nats. … My fondness for Howie Kendrick(notes) was in no way diminished by this walk-off bunt. … Jon Lester(notes) dominated a sad collection of Blue Jays, allowing just one hit over seven innings and striking out 11. Presumably you were never panicked there. … Chris Tillman(notes) tossed a no-hitter for Triple-A Norfolk, striking out six and blanking Freddie Freeman's(notes) Gwinnett Braves. Tillman will find his way back to Baltimore before long, but the quality-of-opponent issues won't go away in the AL East. … Jaime Garcia(notes) further cooled off Atlanta's outrageously cold lineup, limiting the Braves to four hits and no runs over seven innings. Check the batting averages down the line for ATL: .197 (Escobar), .361 (Prado), .241 (Chipper), .203 (Glaus), .200 (Diaz), .197 (Cabrera), .200 (Ross), .160 (McLouth). Jason Heyward(notes) is stuck in a slump, so he took the night off against the left-handed Garcia. His manager says he's taking too many hittable strikes, and thus falling behind too often. Whatever gets him swinging, I'll endorse.

Thursday AM bonus time: Cleveland closer Chris Perez(notes) had a fairly strong opinion on Kendrick's game-winning bunt single. This from

"It was a bad baseball play that happened to work out," Perez said. "I don't want to say it was bush league. But you never see that. Ninety-nine percent of hitters in that situation would rather win the game with a hit, not a bunt. It was a stupid play that just happened to work."

First of all, "Bad Baseball That Happens to Work!" would be an outstanding marketing slogan for the Angels.

Secondly, Perez might have a point … not sure. There were two outs when Kendrick got the bunt down, and if he hadn't placed the ball so perfectly, he would have been thrown out easily at first. It wasn't a lay-up. You're free to debate the issue in comments. Perez's statement only suggests that he's frustrated, not that he's thinking strategically. He's basically telling Kendrick to get a man's hit next time. Don't be surprised if there's a HBP in Howie's future.


Photos via AP Images (Feliz) and US Presswire (Dotel)