Houston Astros pitcher Michael Feliz and the Quad-Cities River Bandits teamed up Monday to craft a feel-good finale to the Midwest League regular season.
The rehabbing major-league reliever struck out two batters during a perfect first inning and Quad-Cities clubbed seven extra-base hits to end a six-game losing streak with a 7-3 Midwest League victory over Wisconsin in front of a crowd of 4,551 at Modern Woodmen Park.
“We needed this. It’s a great way to go into the playoffs,’’ said outfielder Chas McCormick, who homered and doubled as part of a three-hit game. “We put the barrel on the ball and got after it.’’
That allowed the River Bandits to rally from a 3-1 deficit in a game which began with two pitchers with major-league experience on the mound, Feliz and the Timber Rattlers’ Adrian Houser.
Feliz needed nine pitches to retire the Timber Rattlers in the top of the first inning in the first of what is expected to be multiple appearances for Quad-Cities as he works his way back from a shoulder injury.
“He was smooth,’’ catcher Chuckie Robinson said. “It was a great way to start.’’
In a rehab schedule altered by travel complications created by Hurricane Harvey, the outing was the first for Feliz since working an inning for AA Corpus Christi on Aug. 22 and is part of the rehab process designed to position him for a return to Houston, where he has worked 44.2 innings this season.
Houser, who was a teammate of Feliz with the River Bandits in 2014 before being traded to Milwaukee, pitched three shutout innings in his second start with Wisconsin as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery.
The right-hander struck out four batters and allowed just one hit, a leadoff infield single by McCormick in the bottom of the first.
River Bandits manager Russ Steinhorn worked with both Feliz and Houser in 2013 in the New York-Penn League and he saw a lot to like in both performances.
“Feliz was outstanding. He went out and did his job and looked good doing it,’’ Steinhorn said. “Houser threw really well, too, and I’m happy for him coming back like he is. That’s not an easy thing.’’
Steinhorn, whose team will add rehabbing major-leaguer Evan Gattis to its roster for its initial playoff games, liked what he saw from the rest of the River Bandits as well.
“We got back to driving the ball for extra bases the way we are capable of driving it, we were getting two-out hits, the pitchers were throwing strikes and the defense was doing its job,’’ Steinhorn said. “It was a great way to end a great regular season.’’
All seven of the River Bandits’ hits over the final five innings went for extra bases, allowing Quad-Cities to overcome an early deficit.
Four of those hits came during a four-run fifth which opened with a double by Kristian Trompiz and included back-to-back two-out run-scoring doubles by McCormick and Robinson before the River Bandits pushed ahead 5-3 on a two-run homer to right by J.J. Matijevic.
McCormick followed Matijevic’s first full-season home run with a two-run blast of his own, clearing the fence in left in the seventh inning.
“I’ve been working with (hitting coach Ben Rosenthal) on a couple of things and I’m starting to see it pay off at the right time,’’ McCormick said. “This was a good game going into the playoffs, something to build on.''