ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 11: Umpire Kerwin Danley #44 walks back to the mound with Joe Nathan #36 of the Texas Rangers during th game against the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 11, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
Right from the get-go, you could tell that Tuesday just wasn't going to be Joe Nathan's night.
The veteran Texas Rangers closer, who entered Tuesday's game with 15 straight saves with just one blown opportunity all season, allowed a one-out walk to Vernon Wells with his team nursing a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning. And then all hell broke loose.
Nathan slipped on the mound, letting loose a wild pitch that allowed Wells to get to second base and get the Yankees out of a double-play situation. After a visit from Ron Washington and the Rangers' team trainer, Nathan stayed in the game and allowed an RBI triple, followed by a go-ahead single in what was one of his few bad outings of the year.
The blown save came after the Rangers had rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the sixth inning to put up a four-run inning capped by Mitch Moreland's two-run blast that gave the Rangers the 4-3 lead.
Nathan was upset as he left the field, sharing some choice words with the home plate umpire for what he felt was an odd strike zone, and that rang true in the next half-inning when Yankees closer Mariano Rivera had about the widest strike zone you could possibly have.
"Today was a little tougher day to figure out where the zone was, but that's no fault to him," Nathan told ESPN Dallas. "It's a tough gig to call balls and strikes, especially when it's a game of inches. It's a tough gig for him. Unfortunately, it went against us today."
Well said, Joe. Way to stay diplomatic.
It'd be a third outing in three straight days for Nathan if he's needed on Wednesday night, and after Tuesday's disappointment you can bet the veteran will be dying for the ball again, but it might be a good time to see what you have in former all-star closer Joakim Soria closing out a game.