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Banister playing matchups; Feliz out as closer

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

BOSTON -- Neftali Feliz has gone from Rangers closer to setup/middle reliever. His first outing in his new role came during a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

The Rangers trailed, 4-2, in the bottom of the seventh when the Red Sox mounted a rally off left-handed reliever Sam Freeman. Hanley Ramirez doubled with one out, Pablo Sandoval was hit by a pitch and both Ramirez and pinch-runner Brock Holt moved up on Mike Napoli's fly ball to deep center.

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BOSTON -- Neftali Feliz has gone from Rangers closer to setup/middle reliever. His first outing in his new role came during a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

The Rangers trailed, 4-2, in the bottom of the seventh when the Red Sox mounted a rally off left-handed reliever Sam Freeman. Hanley Ramirez doubled with one out, Pablo Sandoval was hit by a pitch and both Ramirez and pinch-runner Brock Holt moved up on Mike Napoli's fly ball to deep center.

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The Red Sox then sent up right-handed pinch-hitter Shane Victorino. Rangers manager Jeff Banister countered by bringing in Feliz. That's a move that a manager almost never makes with his anointed "closer."

Feliz apparently no longer has that anointment, not when he entered the game with a 5.51 ERA, three blown saves and opponents hitting .300 off him.

"Like I said before, we're going to look at where we are in the lineup, the matchups and go from there," Banister said. "We'll see how the matchups are best for us. It doesn't matter what the inning is."

Feliz, pitching for the first time since allowing three runs in Saturday's blown save against the Indians, did his job in this situation. He walked Victorino but retired Xander Bogaerts on a grounder back to the mound to end the threat.

Feliz, with the score still 4-2, went out and pitched the eighth inning as well. He kept it a two-run game despite a two-out double by Dustin Pedroia. Feliz intentionally walked David Ortiz but retired Ramirez on a hard grounder to shortstop Elvis Andrus.

"I thought Neftali threw the ball well," Banister said. "His fastball played up, his breaking ball was there and he threw strikes. He put up a zero."

Feliz combined with Keone Kela and Freeman to give the Rangers three scoreless innings out of the bullpen. That's seven in two games.

"That's what we are looking for," Banister said.

In the top of the ninth, Leonys Martin led off with a pinch-hit home run against Red Sox closer Koji Uehara. Shin-Soo Choo reached on a two-out single. All it would have taken is one home run and the Rangers would have needed a closer in the bottom of the ninth.

In the bullpen, right-hander Ross Ohlendorf and left-hander Alex Claudio were warming up. Banister was ready to use either one, although there was a good chance that Shawn Tolleson would have started warming up as well if the Rangers had taken the lead.

Or Tanner Scheppers, although he just returned from Triple-A and is not ready for that prime-time role.

Right now, all roles are a mystery in the Rangers' bullpen.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Texas Rangers, Neftali Feliz