Nathan opts to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Joe Nathan headshot.jpg9:36pm: Christensen passes along word that Nathan has opted to undergo Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery and will miss all of the 2010 season.  The throwing session apparently ran less than smoothly:

“It didn’t go like we hoped,” Nathan said. “We knew it was a long shot,
but this will help clear my head.”

8:48am: Joe Nathan finally got around to playing catch Sunday morning, a final test before he decides whether to undergo season-ending elbow surgery.  Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is awaiting word from the Twins, as are we.

Nathan was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament last week and will miss a large chunk of the 2010 season no matter what course he takes.  After all, rehab for such an injury would almost certainly last several months.

The 35-year-old closer collected 47 saves last season while posting a 2.10 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 89/22 K/BB ratio in 68 2/3 innings of work.  The Twins haven’t announced who will fill in for him this season, though it’s safe to guess that Jon Rauch and Matt Guerrier are the front-runners for the substitute gig.  Rauch has closing experience and Guerrier is one of the finest setup men in the game.

Astros stave off AL West elimination, beat the Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, Gary Pettis
AP Photo

Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.

Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.

The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.

If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.

If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.

Video: Kelby Tomlinson slides in for an inside-the-park home run

Kelby Tomlinson
AP Photo
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Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.

Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.