Nathan records save; dead arm feels 'livelier'
DETROIT -- When Joe Nathan talked about dead arm last week, he also talked about how quickly it can come back to life. That resuscitation seems to have started.
"Today was more how I felt, being able to finish," Nathan said Thursday after retiring the middle of the Indians lineup in order in the ninth inning for his second save in four chances and a 7-5 win. "My velocity is what it's going to be, but moreso I was locating where I wanted to. But it did feel like it was a lot livelier.
"There's different 91s, different 92s, but today, at least finishing pitches, it felt like it was jumping out of my hand better."
Nathan averaged about 92 mph on the 11 fastballs he threw in his 18-pitch outing. That's not much different than the velocity he had last week. The big difference, however, seemed to be the command. He not only threw strikes -- 11, including seven on fastballs -- he threw quality strikes.
He spotted a fastball on the inside edge for a called third strike on Carlos Santana after hitting the outside corner with one for strike one. With two outs, he then spotted back-to-back fastballs up around the belt for strikes to get ahead on Michael Brantley, whose four RBIs on the day provided the bulk of Cleveland's offense.
"Command was the key today, especially with my fastball," Nathan said. "I was able to go in and out with it, get Santana on a good fastball inside, be able to run a couple inside on [Mike] Aviles and then get him out with a slider away."
Said manager Brad Ausmus: "He was hitting the corners, which is what he did so well last year."
It came after four days off. He hadn't pitched in a game since last Saturday in San Diego, which normally is too much time off for a closer. Nathan made it work, and in his case, it might have given him time to let the arm recuperate.