Joe Nathan’s first season in Detroit hasn’t quite been a love affair between the 39-year-old closer and the fans. Nathan, a Tiger-killer as a member of the Twins and Rangers, sports a ERA over 5.00 and his $10+ million free agent salary is part of the reason Detroit traded Doug Fister in the offseason. When Nathan walked the first two Pittsburgh batters of the ninth inning Wednesday night, the Comerica Park faithful starting grumbling. Nathan returned serve with some sort of gesture after the game as the teams lined up for handshakes, after he induced a Josh Harrison double-play grounder to seal the Tigers’ 8-4 win.
There’s a little bit of background here. Tigers fans probably weren’t too thrilled with Nathan off Saturday’s blown save in Toronto, which started a four-game losing streak which allowed Kansas City to move atop the American League Central. After that game Nathan shrugged it off, as most veterans would do. (Fans, as always, expect players to be as passionate day-in, day-out as they are.)
The media apparently was unaware of the gesture following the game. Nathan offered up an apology Thursday morning.
These sort of things tend to happen when a team with World Series hopes hits a 3-7 tailspin.
[H/T Kyle Koster]