Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Ron Washington not concerned with Joe Nathan
By Calvin Watkins
ARLINGTON, Texas -- After just six games, closer Joe Nathan has a loss and a blown save on his ledger for the Texas Rangers.
Nathan had a terrible ninth inning Wednesday night, allowing three runs in blowing a two-run lead in a 4-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
The loss and the blown save comes with Nathan pitching on consecutive days.
Manager Ron Washington said he's not concerned about his new closer.
"I thought he was throwing the ball well," Washington said. "Once again, maybe location just had something to do with it. I thought he was throwing the ball well. It was 93, 94 mph. It’s a big league club over there. I don’t know how many innings we had them shut down, but right there in the ninth inning they put some runs on the board."
Nathan was beaten by his slider, a pitch he didn't get low enough in key situations.
With the Rangers leading 3-1, Nathan gave up a leadoff single to Justin Smoak to start the ninth inning. Nathan threw three straight sliders to Kyle Seager, and the third one was stroked for a double to right field. Jesus Montero drove a fastball to right for a sacrifice fly.
Then came Michael Saunders, who hit a slider for a double to center to tie the game at 3.
"Slider, another slider down," Nathan said. "Like I said, maybe not down enough. But a lot of those pitchers were sliders down that they served into right and found outfield turf. Give credit to them for putting good swings on [it]. I tried to mix in and away sliders and curveballs. To me it just didn’t look like they weren’t getting off the slider. So in that situation, I got to be more fine if I'm going to go to that pitch."
Nathan stuck with the slider again and struck out the next batter, Brendan Ryan, but his curveball to John Jaso was hit to center to drive in the go-ahead run.
Nathan said he felt good physically and thought he didn't throw many bad pitches, but that he wished some of his pitches were lower in the strike zone.
"Felt great, everything felt really good, four out of six [games] now," Nathan said. "I felt really strong tonight. I felt like I had a good fastball, curveball, finally mixed that in, and that felt good throwing strikes with that. l think it was maybe a fraction off with the slider, and even though they were decent pitches I'm going to go back and take a look and make sure they were where I thought they were. They were down, but not down enough. Give credit to them for putting good swings on the baseball and keep that train moving."
It was Nathan's first blown save since July 9, 2001 when he pitched for Minnesota. Nathan saved 11 consecutive games after that for the Twins.
But Wednesday's blown save for the Rangers gives more negative things for fans to talk about, and they let him hear it with boos when he left the mound after the top of inning was over.
"This is what the end of the game [is] when you don’t have good nights," he said. "There's a chance you’re going to have an L next to your name, so it comes with the territory. You get either the S or the L. Our guys battled though and almost tied it in the bottom half and obviously continued to battle."