If, however, Nathan were to be rested for a game, Ausmus said, Joba Chamberlain would be the likely choice to close. That theoretical situation was about as close as Ausmus would get to saying Nathan would rest.
It became apparent by the top of the ninth inning Friday night, when Chamberlain was warming up with a 6-3 Tigers lead.
"Joe was off because he pitched four out of five days," Ausmus said afterwards. "It had nothing to do with [results in] Oakland whatsoever."
It also says a lot about Chamberlain's standing in the Tigers' bullpen at this point in the season. The 28-year-old right-hander, who became Detroit's primary setup man once Bruce Rondon underwent Tommy John surgery, entered Friday having tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts over his last five outings, and has allowed four earned runs over 20 1/3 innings in his last 22 outings.
"You can't replace him," Chamberlain said of Nathan. "He's just one of those guys. He's our leader. He continues to lead in so many ways."
Chamberlain's ninth inning Friday consisted of two strikeouts, a walk and a game-ending fly out to center. One of the strikeouts came against Kyle Seager, whose home run in the fourth inning accounted for most of Seattle's offense.
It was his second save as a Tiger. His first came on April 22 in a fill-in scenario, entering with two out in the ninth to record the final out in an 8-6 win over the White Sox.
"I embrace the opportunity," Chamberlain said. "I have about 380 more to go to catch up with Joe."
Actually, he's now just 347 saves behind Nathan on the all-time list.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.