For just the third time in his Hall of Fame career, Mariano Rivera has given up homers in back-to-back relief appearances. However, It didn’t prevent him from notching his 30th save Thursday against the Angels.
Rivera, who gave up a two-run homer to Bobby Abreu in a loss to the Angels on Tuesday, came into a 6-2 game with two on and one out in the ninth inning today. He promptly allowed a three-run homer to Russell Branyan, making it 6-5. However, he was able to retire the next two batters he faced to end the contest.
The previous times Rivera gave up homers in consecutive appearances came in Aug. 2003 against the Orioles and in April 2009 versus the Red Sox and Tigers. It also happened to him twice as a rookie in 1995, but he started both games the first time and one game during the second streak.
On the positive side, Rivera’s save today gave him 14 seasons of at least 30, tying Trevor Hoffman’s major league record. Lee Smith is the only other pitcher with double-digit 30-save seasons, and he finished with just the 10. Billy Wagner had nine.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.