09/07/12 1:00 AM ET
Nathan continues to be Texas' saving grace
Veteran closer converts 28 in a row since his only blown opportunity
By Vinnie Duber / MLB.com
It happened on April 11 to be exact, when the Rangers' closer sustained his only blown save of the season against the Mariners. That was his third opportunity of the year, and he's since picked up 28 in a row -- the longest consecutive saves streak in his career. It also extends a Texas club record and ranks as the longest streak in the Majors this season.
After matching his previous career high in Wednesday night's 7-6 win over the Royals, Nathan added to his streak with his 30th save of the season in Thursday night's 5-4 victory in 10 innings.
So what's been the key to Nathan's success this season?
"Nothing different. No secrets," Nathan said. "I'm trying to move the ball in and out, use all my pitches, keep them guessing. I know what my strengths are and that's being able to use all four pitches. I don't feel like I could blow someone away. I have a good enough fastball, a good enough slider, a good enough curveball and good enough movement on the pitches that I've got to use them all, and try and keep them guessing. Location's been key."
The last time Nathan converted 27 saves in a row was May 8 through Aug. 15, 2004, when he was with the Twins.
Nathan gives a lot of credit for a strong season to the Rangers' bullpen as a whole, which, entering play on Thursday, ranked fifth in the American League with a 3.27 ERA.
"We've had a good run down there," Nathan said. "We've got guys up and down that bullpen that can do a number of different things. If guys need breathers throughout the course of the season, we've got guys that can step up and pick them up. That's what's helped us out. We haven't had too many guys get taxed down there. It's been going well."
Napoli takes first few trips around the bases
KANSAS CITY -- Mike Napoli was back on the basepaths Thursday for the first time since going on the disabled list Aug. 11 with a left quad strain.
Napoli went from home to first a few times, then ran from first to third. But the Rangers catcher said he felt a little something in his leg as he made his final trip between first and third, and he decided to stop.
"I was moving around a lot better than I have been. I guess we'll talk to [manager Ron Washington] and see what we want to do. I'm not fully there yet," Napoli said. "Today was the most I've done, and the most positive thing that I've done [since going to the DL]."
Napoli's recovery has been a slow one, Washington admitted. But the skipper said that Napoli shutting things down didn't raise any concerns.
"It's just slow. That's it," Washington said. "Everything else he did -- did his footwork, throwing down to second base -- no issues. It's the first time he decided to get on the basepaths, and we've just got to push him past that. And once he gets past the issues on the basepaths, then I think he'll be ready for action."
Andrus gets rare off-day in finale against KC
KANSAS CITY -- Rangers manager Ron Washington gave shortstop Elvis Andrus a day off on Thursday night for the series finale against the Royals.
Michael Young started in Andrus' place, playing shortstop for only the fourth time this season.
"It's a day to rest a little bit, and everything feels good," Andrus said.
It's Andrus' first day off since Aug. 6, when he sat against the Red Sox.
"It's been a long season," Andrus said. "Especially me, I've been playing a lot, especially more consecutive games. And that's the way it is. That's what you want. You want to play every day, and be able to go out there and perform every day. So I don't see anything wrong with that."
Young turns on power in set with Royals
KANSAS CITY -- Veteran infielder Michael Young did something on Wednesday night that he hadn't done since June 2011.
Young's seventh-inning home run marked his second long ball of the Rangers' series against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, with his first coming in the ninth inning on Monday. It's the first time Young has homered twice in the same series since June 24-26 of last season, when he homered in all three games against the Mets.
Multi-homer series on the road are even more rare for Young. He hadn't accomplished that since 2009 in Baltimore.
Injured reliever Robbie Ross has been cleared to begin throwing -- possibly on Friday -- as he recovers from a left forearm strain. The left-hander went on the disabled list last Saturday. Prior to the injury, Ross was 6-0 with a 1.78 ERA in 52 relief appearances.
"We're going to play it by ear, see how it goes, day to day," Ross said. "It feels good, we're just taking it easy. I've still got a few more days on the DL. We're going to wait that out."
Rangers affiliates in Frisco and Myrtle Beach won the first games of their respective postseason series on Wednesday night. The Double-A Frisco RoughRiders won Game 1 of their best-of-five set against Corpus Christi, 6-5, on a walk-off double. The Class A Myrtle Beach Pelicans defeated Winston-Salem, 4-1, in their best-of-three series.
Outfielder Jairo Beras will be among 61 players attending instructional league. He is still on a one-year suspension for misrepresenting his age before signing with the Rangers, but is eligible to participate in instructional games. The season runs from Sep. 19 to Oct. 13.
The Rangers released left-handed pitcher Miguel de Los Santos on Thursday after he was designated for assignment on Aug. 31.
Mitch Moreland celebrated his 27th birthday on Thursday.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.