ARLINGTON -- The Twins made their first trip to visit the Rangers this season on Friday, which also gave them their first chance to see former Minnesota closer Joe Nathan at Rangers Ballpark.
It wasn't the first time they saw Nathan, however, as the Twins hosted the Rangers at Target Field from April 13-15, and Nathan tossed two scoreless innings against his former club.
Nathan, who is the Twins' all-time leader in career saves with 260, has been a solid pickup for the Rangers this season, as he has 18 saves with a 1.87 ERA, 42 strikeouts and four walks over 33 2/3 innings, earning a berth on the AL All-Star team.
It's been a big improvement for Nathan, who posted a 4.84 ERA with the Twins last season after missing the 2010 campaign following Tommy John surgery.
"His velocity has come back," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He went through some tough times last year where he couldn't get the ball where he wanted. But he kept working at it. And finally some good things have happened. He's a class act. He's a heck of a reliever and a heck of a pitcher."
Nathan showed signs last year that he was turning the corner, considering he posted a 3.38 ERA after returning from a stint on the disabled list in late June.
But this year, he's an All-Star for the fifth time in his career, and Twins co-closer Glen Perkins said he was happy to see it.
"He's having a great year," Perkins said. "He was probably the one guy I was excited to see, because I've learned a lot from him. It was tough at times last year watching him with all the success he's had struggle. So I'm glad that he's been able to get back."