Walks put bullpen in 'bad situation' as lead melts away
Rangers allow 5 runs in final 2 innings of loss
SEATTLE -- Setup reliever Tanner Scheppers said closer Neftali Feliz shouldn't have been put in that position. Scheppers blamed himself.
"It really [stinks] to put my team in a bad situation," said Scheppers after the Mariners rallied for an 11-10 win on Sunday afternoon.
The Rangers led 10-6 going into the eighth inning when Scheppers came in to pitch. He walked three of four batters and that's when the lead started melting away. First manager Jeff Banister asked rookie right-hander Keone Kela to face Robinson Cano with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth.
After Kela walked Cano, Banister asked Feliz to get a five-out save. Instead the Mariners scored three in the eighth and two more in the ninth off Feliz to win the game. Nelson Cruz delivered the game-winning single with two out in the ninth.
"It's unfair to put Feliz in that situation," Scheppers said. "He was logging a lot of pitches. That's not what he is supposed to do. I just didn't do my job."
Feliz ended up throwing 47 pitches, his most ever as a reliever in the Major Leagues.
"I felt great," Feliz said. "I was concentrating on doing my job. The outcome wasn't what I wanted but I'm still going to hold my head up high."
The Rangers had leads of 7-2 and 10-5. The Mariners' comeback really started in the seventh when Cano doubled off reliever Shawn Tolleson and scored on a single by Kyle Seager to make it 10-6.
Scheppers took over in the eighth, making his second appearance since coming off the disabled list, and had a hard time finding the strike zone. He walked Logan Morrison and pinch-hitter Seth Smith in the bottom of the order. Scheppers came back to strike out Austin Jackson but walked Rickie Weeks to load the bases.
"I was battling myself," Scheppers said. "I couldn't get on top of the baseball and couldn't make the adjustment."
That brought the left-handed-hitting Cano to the plate. With no left-hander in the bullpen, Banister brought in Kela.
"Scheppers was spraying the ball pretty well," Banister said. "There were a couple of close ones that could have gone in his favor but three walks were not what we were looking for. Kela was in a tough spot, first time in that situation. ... I was comfortable bringing in Kela."
The count went full but Kela walked Cano to force in a run and bring up Cruz. That's when Banister brought in Feliz with the bases loaded, one out and the Rangers leading by three.
"With Cruz up, I felt our best against their best was the best thing," Banister said.
Feliz struck out Cruz. Seager followed with a two-run single to make it 10-9 before Feliz retired Dustin Ackley on a fly to center.
Feliz then went back out for the ninth, trying to get his first five-out save since 2009 before he became the closer.
"That's tough to get five outs with your closer," Banister said. "I asked a lot of Neftali today."
Brad Miller started the ninth with a line drive that just hit off of second baseman Rougned Odor's glove for a single.
"That ball probably should have been caught," Banister said.
Morrison flied out but Smith walked and Jackson singled to right to tie the game. With runners at the corners, Jackson took second on indifference. Feliz kept Smith at third by getting Weeks on a shallow fly ball to center. Cano was then walked intentionally to bring up Cruz. In five previous at-bats, Cruz had hit two home runs and struck out three times. This time he delivered the game-winning single.
Banister still went back to the eighth inning.
"That game got away from us with the four walks," he said. "We've got to come in, pound the strike zone and get outs."