The Twins had a record of 17-37 and were 16 1/2 games behind first-place Cleveland through the games of June 1.

But they have made a great surge since then, going 24-11 and are only 6 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit at the All-Star break.

One person who has helped the turnaround is veteran reliever Joe Nathan. Since coming off the disabled list June 23, Nathan has allowed only one run, three hits and no walks while striking out six for a great 1.42 ERA.

Compare that record with what Nathan did before he went on the disabled list, when he posted a 7.63 ERA while allowing 17 hits and 13 earned runs in 151/3 innings, and it's easy to see that the time away was very beneficial to his recovery from the Tommy John surgery he had in 2010.

While the up-and-down Matt Capps still is the closer, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hasn't hesitated to put Nathan in crucial setup roles, and the righthander has come through.

"I feel fine. It's just nice getting some results now and being able to help the squad out," said Nathan, who missed the entire 2010 season and had a very rough time early this year.

"The ball has more life on it now. I trust my stuff, I feel better, that's definitely very important," Nathan said. "But more importantly I can finish pitches off right now and just kind of sense that my ball has more life on it, especially as it's crossing the plate."

Nathan said he still has a ways to go to get back to his 2009 season form, when he had 47 saves and a 2.10 ERA.

"I've been making better pitches, more consistent, but sometimes I've still got some things to do, still have got to work and have to continue to get better and better," he said. "But right now I'm happy with where I'm at and just trying to, like I said, make pitches, make quality pitches, and be as consistent as I can be."

No new problems Nathan said he hasn't had any problems with his arm since he came back.

"Everything has felt good," Nathan said. "I've been taking care of it and every day has been feeling pretty good. Since I've broken up all the scar tissue in there it's really responded well."