The Rangers beat the Rays 5-4, and Joe Nathan picked up his 300th career save. But it won't be remembered the way it should be after plate umpire Marty Foster called a pitch well out of the zone a strike to end the game.
"Did I draw it up that way? No," Nathan said.
Ben Zobrist and Nathan were locked in a 3-2 count when the Rangers' closer threw a curveball that dived out of the strike zone. Zobrist started to head to first base, but Foster signaled strike three to end the game. The Rays would have had runners at first and second with All-Star slugger Evan Longoria, who was 3 for 3, coming to the plate.
"I saw the pitch and, of course, don't have the chance to do it again," Foster told a pool reporter. "But had I had a chance to do it again, I wouldn't call that pitch a strike."
Nathan agreed that the pitch had missed the strike zone and admitted that he had turned his attention to Longoria upon seeing his pitch sail wide. He was caught on camera saying "wow" after seeing Foster's call.
"The fact that I thought it was ball four … my mind-set went more to, 'OK, let’s concentrate on what we have to do with Longoria now,' " Nathan said. "I think I might have been the last guy on the field that realized the game was over."
Nathan, though, also said that he's been on the other side of a missed call -- a strike that was called a ball -- several times. Over the course of 162 games, he said, calls will end up going against the Rangers and costing them.
"I think it's pretty safe to say we got a very fortunate call, but we'll take it," Nathan said.
-- Jeff Wilson