The rain did its best to interupt Game One of the American League Championship Series (ALCS), but it was the Texas Rangers’ bullpen that took control after the starting pitchers departed and helped their team to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
There was a considerable debate in Spring Training about how best to use Neftali Feliz: whether he should remain in his closer role or go back to being a starting pitcher, as he was in the Minor Leagues.
A quality starting pitcher is always more valuable to a team than a closer, not least because you can expect to get around three times the amount of innings from them over the course of a season.
The Rangers feel that Feliz does have the pitching arsenal to make it as a frontline starter, but they had other starting pitching options this year and decided that using him as a closer made the most sense.
That may change over the coming offseason. If they lose C.J. Wilson as a free agent, it might make more sense to replace him in the rotation with Feliz and then spend some of the money that would have gone towards a starting pitcher on one of the premium closers that will hit the market as free agents (principally Heath Bell, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez and Ryan Madson).
That’s a decision for another day. Right now, the Rangers can enjoy bringing Feliz into a 3-2 game in the ninth inning and watching him strike out the side, blowing a 101 MPH fastball past Austin Jackson in the process.
Many in the UK (including myself) will be catching up on Feliz’s flame-throwing fireworks this morning rather than having watched it live. The game started in the early hours of Sunday morning and after 1 hour 50 minutes were taken up by the two rain delays, the game didn’t finish until just gone 6 a.m. UK time.
Looking at the current schedule for the coming week – up to and including the potential Game Five in each series – we will be able to enjoy three of the contests live at a more convenient time. That starts with tonight’s NLCS opener between the Cardinals and Brewers and continues with Games Four and Five (if needed) of the ALCS on Wednesday and Thursday.
The schedule is stated below with start times in BST and the later games (i.e. games that actually start in the early hours of the following day from our perspective) listed in italics.
Sunday 9 October
21.05. St. Louis at Milwaukee [NLCS Game One]
00.45. Detroit at Texas [ALCD Game Two]
Monday 10 October
01.05. St. Louis at Milwaukee [NLCS Game Two]
Tuesday 11 October
01.05. Texas at Detroit [ALCS Game Three]
Wednesday 12 October
21.19. Texas at Detroit [ALCS Game Four] *BBC 5 Live Sports Extra
01.05. Milwaukee at St. Louis [NLCS Game Three]
Thursday 13 October
21.19. Texas at Detroit [ALCS Game Five - if required]
01.05. Milwaukee at St. Louis [NLCS Game Four]
Friday 14 October
01.05. Milwaukee at St. Louis [NLCS Game Five - if required]
All of the games will be shown live on ESPN America and ‘International’ MLB.TV subscribers (including us in the UK) can watch or listen to all of the games on MLB.com.
The BBC 5 Live Sports Extra schedule originally had a game pencilled in for 18.00 on Sunday, but there now isn’t a game scheduled for that time and the station’s NFL coverage takes precedence at 21.00. However, there will be a mid-week treat as the team is broadcasting the Wednesday night game from the ALCS from 21.00.