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Nathan Struggles, But Saves Twins' 4-3 Victory Over Toronto

Joe Nathan had an opportunity to pick up his first save since October 3, 2009 when he was called on to pitch the bottom of the ninth inning with the Minnesota Twins holding a 4-2 lead. He got the victory, but it certainly was interesting.

Nathan got the save despite allowing a run on two hits and walking two in the bottom of the ninth, as Minnesota got their first victory of the 2011 season with a 4-3 triumph over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon.

Nathan started the ninth inning by giving up an infield single to Travis Snider, and after J.P. Arencibia flew out to left field, Mike McCoy doubled. That sent Snider to third, where he scored on Yunel Escobar's sacrifice fly. Despite only needing one out to get out of the inning, Nathan then walked Juan Rivera and Jose Bautista in consecutive plate appearances to load the bases, but managed to induce a ground out to first from Adam Lind to preserve the Minnesota win.

The Twins got on the board first in this one thanks to Danny Valencia's first hit of the season, a solo home run to left field to lead off the third inning. The Blue Jays tied it up in the bottom of the fourth when Lind scored when Twins' second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka threw errantly after fielding a ground ball off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion.

The Twins put up two more in the top of the fifth on RBI singles by Matt Tolbert and Nishioka. Bautista homered to right in the bottom of the sixth to cut Minnesota's lead to 3-2, but the Twins extended the lead again thanks to Denard Span's solo home run to right field off of former Twin Jon Rauch in the top of the ninth. Span had himself a very good series over the weekend, going 5-for-11 in the three game series.

Nick Blackburn gets credit for the victory for the Twins, as he pitched 5.2 innings, scattering six hits and allowing two runs, only one of which was earned. Jose Mijares, Matt Capps, and Glen Perkins each took the mound as well, bridging the gap to Nathan for the ninth inning.

From here, the Twins move on to a four-game set with the New York Yankees in the Bronx starting tomorrow. Scott Baker will get the start for the Twins tomorrow, and he'll be opposed by right-hander Ivan Nova.

Congratulations to the Twins on getting their first win of the season, and kudos to Joe Nathan for notching that first save, regardless of how interesting it wound up being.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.