Feltner sharp, but bats quiet in Cincy

July 9th, 2024

CINCINNATI -- Rockies right-hander received yet another reminder that much is beyond his control.

Feltner held the Reds to two runs, one earned, in seven innings of a 6-0 loss at Great American Ball Park.

As has been the case on more than a few occasions this season, Feltner’s pitching was good enough for a win, giving up just four hits and striking out six. It marked the 10th time that Feltner has left his start having yielded three or fewer earned runs -- yet the Rockies have scored as many as four runs in six of those contests.

Feltner has had his share of poor games -- there’s a reason he is 1-8 with a 5.29 ERA. But nights like Monday, when he forced two double-play grounders and refused to be haunted by his three walks -- suggest that the corner is in sight.

“That’s a result thing that I try not to pay too much attention to, but I definitely hope it turns,” said Feltner, pitching two hours from Columbus, where he pitched at Ohio State before the Rockies selected him in the fourth round in 2018.

With Reds lefty Andrew Abbott, who shut down the Rockies in a 13-3 Reds win at Coors Field on June 3, limiting the Rockies to three hits and striking out eight, Feltner had to be at his best just to be even. He came close.

“Feltner, I thought, threw well, and I think there’s more in there,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “Three walks, behind in the count, but he got some double plays, got some strikeouts when he needed to. So he did his part -- 2-0 going into the eighth. We couldn’t score any runs, and the eighth inning got away from us [four runs vs. reliever Tyler Kinley].”

Even Feltner unwittingly contributed to the loss defensively.

The Reds loaded the bases on Feltner in the fourth when Elly De La Cruz and Jeimer Candelario singled, and Spencer Steer drew a walk. Feltner forced a Tyler Stephenson double-play grounder and fell behind, 1-0. Feltner was facing Edwin Ríos -- and eventually struck him out -- when he allowed catcher Elias Díaz’s return throw to tick off the end of his glove. Candelario scored from third.

Díaz received the error. Feltner took the blame.

“That’s something you never think is going to happen,” Feltner said. “I was focused on the next pitch, not something as simple as catching the ball. It was a weird play. I told him [Díaz] I was sorry.”

Feltner had no reason to apologize for his two-seam and four-seam fastballs, combined with his changeup. Taking advantage of familiar humidity that allowed him to have the desired pitch grips, Feltner drew 14 swings and misses -- six (two four-seamers, four two-seamers) came on fastballs. Usually, those pitches draw contact because Feltner is trying to put those in the strike zone.

A couple of sinkers that the Reds managed to put into play resulted in double plays.

“The fastball, 93, 94, 95 mph with extreme movement was excellent. We saw a couple swing-throughs. When big league hitters swing through a fastball at the bottom of the zone, that tells you there is action to it," Black said. “And the double-play ball, bases-loaded to Stephenson, was big.”

Feltner met most challenges while Abbott was largely unchallenged. Second-year shortstop Ezequiel Tovar went 0-for-4 with a double-play grounder to extend his career-worst slump to 0-for-28. Lesser experienced players at the bottom of the order including Michael Toglia, Hunter Goodman and Aaron Schunk combined for five strikeouts, although Toglia drew a walk.

All Feltner can do is build on traits that usually lead to winning pitching.

“I've learned what pitches I can go to and certain scenarios to get ground balls -- what sets up what, where their swing is in a certain at-bat,” Feltner said. “That’s definitely evolving.”