Joe Nathan was happy just to be joining a good, young team when he was traded to Minnesota before the 2004 season. Becoming the closer was not really on his mind.

"(Eddie) Guardado and (LaTroy) Hawkins were still a part of this team, so I thought I was joining an already very good bullpen and just making them deeper," Nathan said. "I just figured I'd be a seventh- or eighth-inning guy."

In hindsight, it's hard to believe.

Nathan became the Twins' all-time saves leader Wednesday night, locking down a 5-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox with a 1-2-3 ninth inning that moved him past Rick Aguliera with 255 saves in a Minnesota uniform.

"Obviously it's an honor to pass such a great pitcher in Aggie, good human being," Nathan said. "He's an outstanding person. To be able to take over his record means a lot to me, and to be able to stick around this organization, it's a pretty cool thing."

His eighth season in a Twins uniform has been his most difficult. Nathan missed all of 2010 after blowing out his right elbow in spring training. He might have been confident he could pitch this season, but he couldn't be sure. To do so, he would have to recover from ligament reconstruction surgery in 12 months.

That's hard for any pitcher, and at 36, Nathan is closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

"He's been through an awful lot, and there are a lot of people in the baseball circles that said at his age, he probably wouldn't be able to come back and be anywhere close to the closer he had been," manager Ron Gardenhire said.