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Joe Nathan was all smiles

Joe Nathan was all smiles at the conclusion of Wednesday's Twins victory. Nathan was with his wife earlier in the game as she delivered an 8-pound baby girl at a local hospital, but he returned to the Metrodome in time for the 9th inning in case he was needed as a relief pitcher.

Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

TWINS 7, BALTIMORE 2

Up next: 7:11 p.m. Friday at Chicago White Sox

TV: Ch. 29 • Radio: 1500-AM

Three wins and a baby add up to a good start

  • Article by: Joe Christensen
  • Star Tribune
  • April 5, 2007 - 9:51 AM

Twins closer Joe Nathan passed out chocolate cigars Wednesday night, celebrating the birth of a daughter who arrived in time to make sure her daddy would be there if his team needed another save.

But after relying on Nathan for saves in the season's first two games, the Twins finished without him this time. He could relax and celebrate Riley Nathan's birth on a night Ramon Ortiz continued convincing himself of his own rebirth.

Ortiz was impressive in his Twins debut, holding Baltimore to two runs in seven innings, as the Twins cruised to a 7-2 victory before an announced 27,539 at the Metrodome.

Last year, it took Ortiz eight starts to get his first victory for Washington. He struggled through an 11-16 season.

"You look at me now," Ortiz said, "I'm different."

Ortiz credited pitching coach Rick Anderson for teaching him how to relax in pressure situations. But the Twins kept the pressure light this time, as they jumped to a first-inning lead on Michael Cuddyer's run-scoring single and added five more runs in the third.

Ortiz yielded only three hits through five innings. But it was the way he collected himself after giving up two Orioles runs in the sixth inning that impressed Anderson.

During a mound visit that inning, Anderson said he told Ortiz: "Don't try as hard. Just back off and pitch and change speeds."

Ortiz listened, retiring six of the final seven batters he faced, with the other reaching on an error.

"His damage control was awesome," Anderson said. "A very positive outing."

It was a positive series all around for the Twins, who are off to their first 3-0 start since 2001.

Nathan and his wife, Lisa, planned their second child's birth almost perfectly. She was induced in the morning, and Nathan was there at 8:34 p.m. when Riley entered the world at 8 pounds, 6 ounces.

Nathan said he was holding the baby, having pictures taken, when Lisa saw third baseman Nick Punto make a spectacular diving play to rob a hit from Miguel Tejada in the sixth inning. That's when Lisa told Joe he had better get to the game.

On the drive to the Metrodome, Nathan said he told his agent: "I'm glad it's not a save situation because I'm kind of floating right now. I'd probably be throwing 100 [miles per hour] but I wouldn't know where it's going."

Ortiz celebrated wildly after Jason Tyner made another fantastic catch to take a hit away from Paul Bako to end the seventh inning. That was the final out for Ortiz, as Matt Guerrier came on for the final two innings.

"You make a few plays behind them, and these pitchers get confident," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They see that we catch the ball, and that's going to help him down the road."

Joe Christensen • jchristensen@startribune.com

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