(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - From his first pitch Wednesday night, Joe Nathan could feel it.
"There was a lot of frustration on the fans' part," he said.
His first pitch was a ball, and most of his following pitches were balls, too. The Detroit Tigers' closer walked the first two hitters in the ninth inning of a non-save situation — and with each ball, he could hear the frustration from the fans.
"Right after I threw ball one, everything started again," he said.
And he, too, was frustrated.
So after a lineout and double play sealed the Tigers' 8-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, Nathan showed the fans how frustrated he was with them by flicking his fingers against his chin and then doing it again with his glove.
"It was just frustrations and hearing it the whole inning just got the better of me," Nathan said today at Comerica Park. "My frustrations came out."
The Tigers' embattled closer apologized for those frustrations today, saying he understands the fans' issues with his performance. "I do apologize for my actions and I want to put it behind us as quick as I can and move on to what's important, and that's winning games," he said.
Nathan arrived in the Tigers' clubhouse at 10:29 a.m. and fielded questions from the media immediately thereafter.
"I was frustrated and, obviously, the fans were frustrated," he said. "For myself, I apologize for that, but I have two kids and I need to be a better example for them.
"Thank God they're still young enough so they won't know about this, but I do know and I need to be better for that. I know both sides are frustrated, but the thing is, we're on the same page."
He was speaking about the fans and said there are no hard feelings towards them — "I know they're behind this team 100%; they want us to get to the same place" — but that baseball is a hard game, and he can't be perfect every time.
"Sometimes you're going to go out and have struggles, and the thing is, I don't feel like I have been struggling lately," he said. "I think it's gone pretty well and sometimes when you walk a guy, that frustration comes out there."
Nathan has a 5.11 ERA this season, with 24 saves in 30 chances.
Nathan said the incident was something that has never happened to him before.
"It's obvious that it was just frustration because it's something I've never been a part of, I've never done and I never will do again," he said.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he did not see video of the incident before arriving this morning and did not have a comment on it either way. But he did say he was planning to talk to Nathan about the incident and that he "wouldn't want to upset Tigers fans."
If Nathan's performance thus far hadn't upset them, then Wednesday's actions might have.
"I understand," Nathan said. "It was bad on both parts, frustration came out on both sides. I apologize to the fans and I apologize to my kids and I will be better."