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Feliz blows it again as Milwaukee Brewers fall 4-1 to Red Sox

Neftali Triste, to be perfectly honest.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

A disappointing end cast a pall over an otherwise fun and encouraging series, as the Brewers have to settle for a mere series win rather than a sweep during a rare visit from the Boston Red Sox.

The dull roar over the state of the back of the Brewers bullpen will surely grow to an thunderous clamor in the wake of yet another game lost to the inept efforts of (soon to be former?) closer Neftali Feliz.

But first, with a duly deferent nod to my friend Kate, the managing editor of Lookout Landing where they invented this very good style of instant reaction, the chart:


I do not much like this chart.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: Jimmy Nelson (+.260 WPA)

Copyright infringement: Neftali Feliz (-.460 WPA)

Through five innings, this was an exceedingly boring game if you’re a Brewers fan, or a fan of offense in general. Milwaukee managed only one baserunner on Keon Broxton’s first inning double, and he immediately erased himself on an ill-fated steal attempt at third.

The Red Sox were similarly stymied through much of the early going Thursday, though they were able to capitalize on their first inning double when a Jesus Aguilar error allowed Xander Bogaerts to reach and Mookie Betts to score. The visitors also mounted a challenge in the second inning, though Nelson was able to extract himself from a bases-loaded jam by inducing a ground out from Dustin Pedroia.

The breakthrough for Milwaukee came in the sixth, when Jonathan Villar broke his 87-year hitless streak with a two-out double that scored Manny Pina to draw the Brewers even with Boston at one. The Brewers failed to mount any significant threat after that, with a double from, well, me apparently giving Milwaukee their last runner in scoring position.

The eighth and ninth innings gave us a vivid picture of what is, and what could be. Knebel, after finishing off the seventh for Nelson, came back on for the eighth and found himself in trouble to the tune of runners on second and third with no one out, then the bases loaded with one out. He induced an infield fly from Andrew Benintendi and back-to-back strikeouts sandwiched around a Mitch Moreland walk to miraculously escape unscathed from a situation in which a team would ordinarily be expected to score about two runs (1.94 RE24).

Feliz, on the other hand, was unable to record an out, allowing the first two hitters to reach on a walk and an error that was at least partly his own fault. Instead of wriggling free of danger, he served up a meatball to Mookie Betts, who promptly delivered it to the left field bleachers to put the game squarely in You’re-Gonna-Lose-ville. A Pedroia single and TOOTBLAN later, Feliz was finished for the day.

Feliz’s ERA now sits at 6.19 with five home runs allowed and just 13 strikeouts to oppose his nine free passes. He has thrice entered a tied ballgame in the ninth only to surrender the winning run(s) on homers, in addition to a blown save in Chicago. Knebel, meanwhile, has been one of the best relievers in baseball, with a 41.3% strikeout rate (3rd in the National League) and a 1.00 ERA (10th).

The bottom of a ninth was a mere formality with Craig Kimbrel, who has been unhittable this season, staked to a three-run lead. He pitched an immaculate ninth, striking out the side on nine pitches, to secure the win.

On Deck: The homestanding Brewers will look to (continue their winning ways/get back on the winning track) tomorrow in a pitching matchup between a couple of Matts who have earned the ire of their fan bases. Harvey, who is embroiled in scandal after being suspended for failing to show up to work earlier this week, goes for visiting New York Metropolitans (16-17). The erstwhile phenom’s on-field performance has been about as terrific as his exploits off it; he owns a 5.14 ERA with an uncomely 4.7% K-BB ratio. Garza will take the hill for Milwaukee, and he’s off to the best start of his Brewers career with a 2.55 ERA and a 20.8% strikeout rate.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs