Rangers closer Joe Nathan picked up his 300th career save Monday on a pitch that not even he fathomed was a strike.
Rays manager Joe Maddon tweeted immediately afterwards: “That can’t happen in a major league game.”
But it can and did in the Rangers’ 5-4 win over the Rays.
In truth, it wasn’t nearly as bad as A.J. Pierzynski made it look. Not that it was a strike, but when it crossed home plate, it wasn’t all that far down and away. Here’s my best try at a freeze frame from when it crossed the plate and when it was caught:
So, yeah, it should have been ball four to Zobrist, which would have put the tying run on second with Evan Longoria up at the plate. Instead, it was game over for the Rays and a milestone for Nathan in a shaky outing.
Veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon was released from his minor league deal with the Rangers on Saturday, MLB.com’s TR Sullivan reports. Despite his strong showing in spring training, Colon wasn’t considered a lock to make the Opening Day rotation. This may not be the end of his time with the team, however — according to multiple reports, the Rangers have expressed their desire to restructure a minor league deal with the right-hander and could work out an arrangement to keep him on as bullpen and Triple-A depth this season.
Colon, 44, is preparing for his 21st year in the majors. He split his 2017 campaign with the Braves and Twins, posting a cumulative 7-14 record in 28 starts and finishing the season with a 6.48 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 5.6 SO/9 in 143 innings. While those numbers were some of the worst he’d seen since 2009, the veteran righty made a compelling case in camp this spring, holding batters to six earned runs, four home runs, two walks and 10 strikeouts in 18 innings.
The Rangers are expected to open the season with a rotation comprised of Cole Hamels, Doug Fister, Matt Moore, Mike Minor and Martin Perez. Perez is working his way back from an elbow injury in his non-throwing arm and is slated to miss his first start of the season, which would provide a brief window of opportunity for Colon when the Rangers hit the road in April.