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September 20, 2013

Rangers closer Joe Nathan's appearance with an 8-2 lead explained

The game Thursday night had turned into a rout, but closer Joe Nathan had already put the thought into pitching coach Mike Maddux’s head, well in advance of the game, that he was going to pitch.

“I said if we have a lead, can I get in there?” said Nathan, who had pitched Tuesday and Wednesday. “He said, ‘We’ll see how big the lead is.’ ”

Nathan wanted to face Tampa Bay and create a positive memory rather for him and put some doubts in the minds of Rays hitters after they had rallied against him in the 11th inning Wednesday.

Doing that was more important than resting. It’s entirely possible that the Rangers and Rays might face each other in the wild-card game or a tiebreaker.

“That was best for Joe and the team,” manager Ron Washington said.

Despite the work in a third straight game, Nathan said he was good to go Friday.

The cut off Thursday was six runs. If the Rangers had scored another run in the ninth, Neftali Feliz would have been the pitcher. Craig Gentry, though, was stranded at third after tripling with no outs, and the score remained 8-2.

“Yesterday felt good to go out there and get some work in,” Nathan said. “It felt like a work day, even though it was my third straight day.”

-- Jeff Wilson

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