ARLINGTON -- Despite manager Ron Washington saying earlier this month that Joe Nathan would only be used in non-save situations, two of Nathan's last three appearances have come with the Rangers holding a four-run lead.
Nathan pitched scoreless ninth innings in a 10-6 win over the Yankees last Thursday and in a 5-1 victory over the Orioles on Monday. A save opportunity for Nathan would require that the Rangers be leading by three or fewer runs going into the ninth inning, although Washington considers a four-run advantage a save situation.
"That's one run removed from a save," Washington said. "A four-run lead, with that team, the way they've been able to come back, I want to let them know the comeback is over. Don't even think about it. If you do it, you're going to have to do it against [Nathan]."
If the Rangers led the Orioles by five runs, Washington went on to say that he would have used Tanner Scheppers instead of Nathan in the ninth inning. But, protecting a 5-1 lead, Nathan struck out the side to end the game, giving him five straight scoreless outings. Despite Washington's previous comments, he wasn't surprised to take the mound in that situation.
"That's not true. I knew it when he said it," Nathan said. "You kind of have to read between the lines a little bit. You can't just pitch in a save situation. It doesn't work for the bullpen. It doesn't work for myself trying to stay sharp. I think they're going to be a little smarter about throwing me in non-save situations after I throw the day before. I'm not overworked."