With the Tigers leading 1-0 and one out in the ninth, Athletics designed hitter John Jaso singled to left field. At least that's what the box score tells you. What actually happened was Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos got a glove on a soft line drive and should have come down with at least one out -- Fox Sports Detroit believed he could have doubled up Coco Crisp at second base, but that's neither here nor there. The key point: Tigers closer Joe Nathan gave up a walk-off home run to Josh Donaldson a batter later, costing the Tigers a 3-1 decision, then proceeded to answer questions about it from Fox Sports Detroit.
Q: "Joe, what's the difference coming in with a clean inning or with a runner in scoring position...".
A: "It's all the same. ... Still about getting outs. The big out there was getting Jaso. You get him and it changes everything. Changes how your approach is against ... Donaldson. Changes how you can pitch to him. Gives me a chance to play with him a little bit. When we didn't get Jaso, puts you in a tough spot. First and third, real good hitter at the plate. Kinda forces me to go after one of their better hitters. So Jaso was the out ... that we thought we had, but unfortunately it didn't happen"
Castellanos, for his part, admitted he should have made the catch. The scorer ruled it a hit but it seems like it could have been called an error instead.
I'm hoping that Nathan didn't throw Castellanos under the bus as badly as it seemed on TV. Going after a tough hitter is the closer's job.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) May 29, 2014
Going by the comments made by Nathan on FSD about being forced to change his approach because Castellanos missed Jaso's liner, it sure sounded as if he was pointing a finger at his rookie third baseman. Not cool when you served up a meatball to end the game, making the play a bit moot.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus also walked the same line, as he brought the Castellanos play up as a possible inning changer.
Jim Leyland never would have said anything about the play.
So: Did Nathan put the blame on Castellanos?