Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

The top of the ninth in last night's "World" Series game, which the Rangers won (2-1, evening the series at 1-1), reminded us how easily 67-year-old .199 career hitter Tony La Russa kneecaps his raw talent. In this particular case, La Russa pulled overpowering strikeout-happy closer Jason Motte (8.3 K/9 in 2011) for underpowered old man Arthur Rhodes (5.7 K/9 in 2011) with men on second and third and no one out, up a run. (Also of note: Motte gave up both of his hits on secondary pitches. He threw a cutter to Ian Kinsler and a curveball to Elvis Andrus.) Making things worse: Injured Josh Hamilton, who had no chance of catching up with Motte's fastball, was coming to the plate. Hamilton, naturally, hit a sac fly off Rhodes, and Michael Young did the same off Lance Lynn. Look, there, the Cardinals just lost the game.

But this is not a post about La Russa's foibles in overmanaging—other webspaces have already chronicled those well. Rather, the Cards' ninth provides a lovely foil to the truly riveting thing Neftali Feliz, the Rangers' closer, did in the bottom of the inning. He threw 19 pitches. They were all fastballs. And not just all fastballs, but all four-seam fastballs. And not just all four-seam fastballs, but all really fucking fast four-seam fastballs.


Per Fangraphs, Feliz threw fastballs on 78 percent of his pitches in 2011, with an average velocity of just over 96 miles per hour on that pitch. Last night, he threw fastballs on 100 percent of his pitches, and had an average of 98 miles per hour. Lordy.

If you watched the game, you'll recall that it didn't seem like Feliz controlled entirely where those pitches were going, especially in the first at-bat. But that didn't thwart him. After walking Yadier Molina, Feliz struck out both Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker before inducing a Rafael Furcal fly to right. Neftali Feliz was awing and raw, just a half-inning after the Cardinals' occasionally awing and raw closer gave up two hits on secondary pitches and got pulled for Arthur Fucking Rhodes and his limp, slow slider. Here's to Feliz for wowing us, and here's to Mike Napoli and Ron Washington for letting him.

The data, if you were interested, from MLB Gameday:

Batter Y. Molina
1 100 4-Seam Fastball Ball
2 99 4-Seam Fastball Ball
3 97 4-Seam Fastball Ball
4 98 4-Seam Fastball Called Strike
5 98 4-Seam Fastball Ball


Yadier Molina walks. None out.

Batter N. Punto
1 97 4-Seam Fastball Foul Bunt
2 97 4-Seam Fastball Foul Bunt
3 99 4-Seam Fastball Swinging Strike


Nick Punto strikes out swinging. One out.

Batter S. Schumaker
1 98 4-Seam Fastball Foul
2 98 4-Seam Fastball Ball
3 98 4-Seam Fastball Ball
4 97 4-Seam Fastball Foul Tip
5 99 4-Seam Fastball Foul
6 98 4-Seam Fastball Swinging Strike


Skip Schumaker strikes out swinging. Two out.

Batter R. Furcal
1 98 4-Seam Fastball Foul
2 98 4-Seam Fastball Foul
3 97 4-Seam Fastball Ball
4 98 4-Seam Fastball Ball
5 97 4-Seam Fastball In play, out(s).


Rafael Furcal flies out to right fielder Nelson Cruz. Three out.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter