Nathan's best not good enough this time

August, 18, 2013
8/18/13
6:29
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Joe Nathan went with his best pitch against Rangers killer Kyle Seager in the ninth inning Sunday, knowing Seattle's third baseman was looking for the slider.

That's Nathan's game. This is Seager's town.

Seager connected with a slider at his ankles, poking it into right field for the go-ahead double that proved the difference in a 4-3 loss for the Rangers against the pesky Mariners.

[+] EnlargeJoe Nathan
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsKyle Seager's go-ahead double off Joe Nathan proved the difference in the Rangers' 4-3 loss to the Mariners.
The Rangers gave Seager a chance to beat them, and he did it against one of Texas' best with what Nathan thought was a good pitch.

"I went back and looked at it [on video]," Nathan said after the game. "It was ankle-high when he hit it, right where I was attempting to throw it.

"He hit a pitch that was probably going to be in the dirt if he didn't scoop it out of the ground before it got there. Hats off to him."

Seager was in an 0-for-21 skid when he hit a game-winning home run in the eighth inning to propel Seattle to a 3-1 victory Friday night. He finished the three-game series on a 4-for-9 tear with two homers, a double and five RBIs.

He has a 14-game hitting streak at Rangers Ballpark. The good news is Seager won't be back this season.

He made his final 2013 swing in Arlington count. It didn't have to come down to that.

Nathan, brought in to start the ninth in a 3-3 game, allowed a leadoff single to Endy Chavez. The Mariners moved him over to second with a bunt, and Nathan picked up the second out of the inning when Brad Miller flew out in foul ground.

That brought up Mariners No. 2 hitter Nick Franklin, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Franklin was able to battle Nathan. On a 3-2 pitch and with Nathan not wanting to give in with a fastball -- Franklin does have 10 home runs -- the Rangers' closer walked him, giving Seager a chance with a runner in scoring position.

"Obviously, I'd like to not walk the guy," Nathan said. "But that's baseball, and I'm not going to go through the year and not walk anyone. It's still the same situation, still a man in scoring position and a tough hitter."

Nathan started Seager with a curveball for a called strike. Then came a slider that Seager missed for an 0-2 count. He fouled off another curveball.

Nathan then challenged Seager with two fastballs. He missed for a ball on the first one, and Seager fouled off the second.

Nathan considered another fastball. "We showed him a lot of pitches in the at-bat," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.

But Nathan went with his best pitch, knowing Seager was probably looking for it.

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"He was sitting on the pitch," Nathan said. "I'm sure everyone in the park knew he was looking for a slider. If I get a decent location, it usually doesn't matter. He always plays us very tough, and he probably is that guy that we don't want to have beat us. But he's a guy I'm going to go after and get out if my pitches are in the right spots."

Nathan has converted 90 percent of his save opportunities, the most in major league history among closers with 200 saves.

He's gotten there with his slider. He'll retire someday throwing his slider.

"That's the pitch I'm not going to go away from," Nathan said. "I'm never going to go away from it. If people can do that on me, it's going to be a tough game on me."

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Yu Darvish
WINS ERA SO IP
10 3.06 182 144
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .323
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 69
RA. Beltre 68
OPSA. Beltre .874
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182