Brad Ausmus sticking with Joe Nathan as the Tigers’ closer

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Joe Nathan had another bad day at work this afternoon, blowing his seventh save of the season when he allowed a run in the ninth inning in an eventual 10-inning, 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays. Nathan now has a a 5.36 ERA, even after going on a run of seven consecutive appearances without allowing a run.

James Schmehl of MLive.com reports that Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is sticking with Nathan as the club’s closer. Joakim Soria would have been next in line for the job, but he left with an injury during today’s game and will be reevaluated tomorrow.

The Tigers, now 63-51, have seen their first-place lead in the AL Central slip from five games last Sunday to two games after today’s loss, and it can shrink further to 1.5 games if the Royals defeat starter Tim Hudson and the Giants tonight. The Tigers’ bullpen has proven to be their undoing frequently throughout the season and may wind up being the culprit if they lose their seat atop the division.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.