After 626 saves in 19 seasons, Mariano Rivera doesn’t have many firsts left. The Mets, however, tagged him with an unfortunate one Tuesday, collecting three straight hits off him in the ninth to overcome a 1-0 deficit and beat the Yankees 2-1.
It was the first time Rivera had ever taken a blown save or a loss in an appearance without recording an out. It was just the third time that he’s appeared in a game and failed to get an out.
The Mets were fortunate to have the right part of their order up against Rivera tonight. Daniel Murphy started the bottom of the ninth with a double the other way. David Wright then singled up the middle, plating Murphy and tying the game. When the throw home got away from catcher Chris Stewart, Wright moved up to second. He then raced around ahead of Ichiro Suzuki’s throw home on Lucas Duda’s game-winning single to right.
The only previous times Rivera had appeared and not gotten an out came on Sept. 26, 1995 and Aug. 10, 2008. In the first, he was making just his eighth career relief appearance. He allowed a single to the Brewers in the eighth inning and was immediately replaced by Rick Honeycutt. The latter appearance came in the ninth inning in a tie game against the Angels. Rivera entered with two on and gave up a game-winning single to the first batter he faced.
Rivera’s blown save and loss tonight were his first since April 6, 2012. The Yankees prevailed in his each of his previous 28 appearances, with Rivera picking up saves in 23 of those games.
The defeat tonight came after the Mets honored Rivera prior to the game and had him throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.