What a huge relief for Twins, Joe Nathan

  • Article by: TWINS INSIDER JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 4, 2011 - 9:19 AM

The Twins needed a victory, and Joe Nathan needed a save. Neither was pretty, but both were achieved.

view larger photos




Joe Nathan made it, just barely, but he made it.


Bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth — Nathan’s first appearance since October 2009 — and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire nearly replaced him with lefthander Dusty Hughes.

"We’re going to protect [Nathan],"
Gardenhire said following Sunday’s 4-3 victory over Toronto. "He was close to coming out of that game."

One year and nine days removed from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, Nathan had just thrown his 30th pitch, walking last year’s home run king, Jose Bautista, to load the bases.

Gardenhire had Hughes warming specifically to face Adam Lind, a lefty who was on deck when Bautista drew his walk.

"[Nathan] had 30-plus pitches, so it was kind of a scary moment," Gardenhire said. "But I didn’t want to take him out."

The Twins were understandably tense, trying to avoid a sweep and their first 0-3 start since 1981.

Handed a two-run lead to start the bottom of the ninth, Nathan already had given up one run. He had recorded two outs, and even those were white-knuckle moments: Delmon Young going back against the left field wall for one catch, and Denard Span making a sprinting grab in the right-center gap.

An announced crowd of 35,505 at Rogers Centre was on its feet, screaming.

Nathan, a four-time All-Star, looked vulnerable. His fastball, which averaged 94 miles per hour in 2009, was sitting at 90 to 91 mph. His curveball looked better than his once-potent slider. Nathan, 36, insisted he wasn’t tired.

"I think there you’re just running on adrenaline," he said.

He threw one more pitch, a low curve that Lind bounced impatiently and harmlessly to first for the game’s final out.

Nathan called it a steppingstone, something to remind him that he has done this before. This was his 248th career save.

"But it still feels like the first time when you get out there, for sure," he said.

Gardenhire said the Twins have spoken to Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell, who oversaw Billy Wagner when he returned to closing in 2010, after coming back from Tommy John surgery. McDowell’s advice was to limit the times Nathan has to pitch back-to-back days early in the season and let him gradually rebuild his confidence.

  • related content

  • Capps bails Twins out of Mijares' mess

    Monday April 4, 2011

    The righty reliever took over in the seventh and shut the Jays down.

  • Series preview: Twins at Yankees

    Sunday April 3, 2011

    FOUR-GAME SERIES AT YANKEE STADIUMMonday, 6:05 p.m. • FSN, ESPN, 1500ESPNRHP Scott Baker (0-0, -- ERA) vs. RHP Ivan Nova...

  • Game recap

    Sunday April 3, 2011

    IMPACT PLAYERDenard Span, TwinsHe went 2-for-4 with a home run and a huge running catch in the ninth inning.BY THE...

  • Joe Nathan is all smiles.

  • Joe Nathan at end


    Up next: Four-game series vs. N.Y. Yankees at Yankee Stadium • Game 1 at 6:05 p.m. today • TV: FSN and ESPN (1500ESPN)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Baltimore «00053100X970
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:M.Gonzalez(7-7) L:T.May(0-4)
HR: MIN- T.Plouffe (11) BAL- D.Young (7), C.Davis (24)


Cincinnati - LP: J. Broxton 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: T. Watson 2
Minnesota - LP: T. May 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 9
NY Yankees - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3
Philadelphia - LP: J. Diekman 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 4
Boston - WP: A. Ranaudo 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer 4
Miami - LP: C. Hatcher 2 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter 5
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 6 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 7 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll 1
Texas - WP: S. Baker 13 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: N. Ramirez 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: P. Neshek 2
Colorado - LP: R. Brothers 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: B. Ziegler 5
Oakland - LP: J. Lester 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 4
Los Angeles - LP: K. Correia 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 3
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 8 FINAL
Seattle - LP: F. Hernandez 3
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: R. Vogelsong 13
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
Arizona 58
Penn State 7:30 AM
Troy 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 11:00 AM
Western Mich 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 2:00 PM
West Virginia 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 2:30 PM
Marshall 2:30 PM
UC Davis 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Houston 3 FINAL
Sporting Kansas City 1
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota 71 FINAL
Phoenix 85
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question