Mariano Rivera gives it up at home for first time this year

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Fresh off taking his fifth blown save Sunday in Boston, Mariano Rivera was beaten at home for the first time this year Tuesday, as he surrendered a two-run homer to Bobby Abreu in a tie game in what turned out to be a 6-4 loss for the Yankees against the Angels.

Rivera entered with a 0.37 ERA at Yankee Stadium this season.  He had allowed one run and posted a 19/1 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings.  He was — and still is — 17-for-17 saving games at home, compared to 12-for-17 on the road.  Since he entered a tie game tonight, he was handed his second loss of the year, but he didn’t get a blown save.

Abreu’s homer was just the second hit off Rivera this year.  The other came off the bat of Reed Johnson in the Yankees’ 4-3 win over the Cubs on June 18.

Abreu also homered off A.J. Burnett in the contest.  It was his 16th career multihomer game and first since Sept. 19, 2010.  He entered with just four homers this season.

The starters were pretty much a wash tonight.  Burnett allowed four runs in six innings before coming out.  Dan Haren had a 4-1 lead at that point, but he coughed up three runs in the seventh to tie the game up.

The Bombers tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth to let Rivera off the hook, as an Eduardo Nunez single and a Derek Jeter walk put the tying run on base with one out against Jordan Walden.  Curtis Granderson then hit a grounder that should have been a game-ending double play, but Howie Kendrick got lazy and the Angels weren’t able to turn two.

That made Granderson the tying run on first with Mark Teixeira up.  Granderson, though, was picked off with the old fake-to-third, throw-to-first move, taking the bat out of Teixeira’s hands.

Still, the story from tonight will likely focus less on Granderson’s blunder and more on Rivera’s struggles.  Rivera’s ERA is still strong at 2.23, but the blown save and the loss in consecutive outings is unusual to say the least.  Also, he’s now allowed as many hits in 44 1/3 innings this season (39) that he did in 60 innings last year.  His current batting average against of .241 would be his second highest mark in his 16 years as a reliever.

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.