Monday, April 8, 2013
Nathan gets 300th save on disputed strikeout
By Todd Wills
Joe Nathan didn't envision his 300th save coming exactly like it did Monday night with the Rays' Ben Zobrist being called out on strikes with a full count on a curveball that was several inches low and off the plate.
In fact, when plate umpire Marty Foster punched out Zobrist, a lip reader could make out Nathan say, "Wow." Is that what he in fact said?
"Yeah, wow," said Nathan, who became the 24th major league pitcher to reach the milestone.
Was the wow for 300?
"Sure," Nathan said, laughing.
Nathan, like everyone from Zobrist to Rays manager Joe Maddon (who lost it on the field after the game) to the fans watching on Fox Sports Southwest, was shocked Zobrist wasn't making his way down to first base with Evan Longoria set to come up with the tying run on second base in Sean Rodriguez.
"Did I draw it up like this for my 300th? No," Nathan said. "Like I said, we'll take it.
"I thought it was ball four," Nathan said. "The 'wow' was meant more to, 'Let's concentrate on what we have to do with Longoria now.'"
Foster admitted after the game to pool reporter Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he made a mistake.
"I saw the pitch and of course I don't have the chance to do it again," Foster said. "But had I had a chance to do it again I wouldn't call that pitch a strike."
Maddon, who argued the call for several seconds after the game, said it was difficult to have the game stolen from his team.
"That was very difficult," Maddon said. "My only comment, my only thought is that cannot happen in a Major League Baseball game. That cannot occur."
Nathan has a history against Zobrist, one the Rays second baseman has dominated. Zobrist had four hits in five at-bats against Nathan going into the ninth-inning matchup, two of them for home runs.
"I was trying to be careful with him even though another good hitter, Longoria, was hitting behind him," Nathan said. "Zobrist has had his history with me so I knew to be careful with him. Fortunately I got a decent call there at the end."
Nathan said he threw the pitch where he wanted it, away from the left-handed hitting Zobrist, hoping he would chase it.
"I threw a pitch where I wanted to; he just didn't offer," Nathan said.
Nathan got the fortunate call, and he joins Bruce Sutter and Jason Isringhausen with 300 career saves, tied for 22nd all-time. The Rangers also won a one-run game to move to 5-2 on the season.
"Tough, tough game," Nathan said. "Every time I get in against the Rays, it just seems like they have a lot of guys that have given me good at-bats. Today was no different."