ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 11: Joe Nathan #36 of the Texas Rangers closes out the inning for the win against the Cleveland Indians at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 11, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
How quickly fans can forget how great Joe Nathan has been this season.
After the 37-year-old closer blew his third save of the season, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Friendster, all of them blew up with Joe Nathan concern/hatred.
But Nathan was right back out there in the nightcap of the doubleheader, closing out a game with no trouble to clinch a playoff berth for the Rangers, finishing his day with 42 pitches before hopping on a plane to Oakland, where he could pitch again tonight if the Rangers are in a position to win the game, and clinch the AL West.
Nathan struggled in Game 1, walking two and giving up two hits, including a game-winning two-run double from his longtime Minnesota Twins teammate Torii Hunter, who finished that game with four hits and got his first career hit off Nathan.
There were shots on the television of Nathan sitting in the dugout with a towel covering his face as the Rangers batted in the bottom of the ninth, unsuccessfully. That could have brought back bad memories of Neftali Feliz after blowing Game 6 of the World Series. But if we've learned one thing this year, it's that Nathan isn't Feliz and there's no need to worry about the veteran's confidence, which he showed just about six hours later.
"I definitely wanted to get back on the horse," Nathan told reporters. "This is a quick turnaround to get back out there, but I think any reliever would ask to get out there and try and put this afternoon’s game behind them."
Nathan isn't any reliever, and he showed it on Sunday.