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Harper thwarted by Yankees pitching


Harper thwarted by Yankees pitching

Bryce Harper struggled mightily on Saturday against the Yankees, striking out in five of his seven at-bats. But the pitchers who had to face the 19-year-old with a penchant for quick in-game adjustments at the plate weren't about to ease up on the slugger.

"You know he's a real aggressive hitter," said Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte. "I felt like I had a pretty good cutter going and he was swinging and missing at them early. I tried to throw some balls into him at his first at-bat and after that just tried to expand the zone on him."

It worked.

Harper struck out in three at bats before practicing a little patience in the seventh: waiting through two cutters to connect with a fastball down the middle, which he sent straight to centerfielder Curtis Granderson. The contact, Pettitte later admitted, prompted the 40-year-old to let his relievers take care of the rest.

Harper would go on to strike out two more times before approaching the plate with two on, two out, and down by two in the 14th inning.

The sellout crowd of 41,287 had thinned out significantly as the game wore on through extras. They rose to their feet hoping to witness heroics like those displayed less than two weeks earlier in a 12th inning walk-off victory over New York's other team.

He'd already accounted for nearly half his team's strikeouts on Saturday, but that didn't calm any nerves in the Yankee duggout.

"You start thinking, 'OK this guy's had a really tough day,'" said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "People are cheering for him, it could change his whole day."

"It's like one of those kind of storybook endings --you're hoping it wasn't going to be," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "That would've just been too good to be true, for Harper to hit a walk-off right there. The place might've fallen down."

Harper grounded out to second and the Yankees took their second in the series. Sometimes though, it's not all about hitting. Harper's repeat performance of Friday night's ESPN Top 10-worthy diving grab in the 13th inning caught plenty of applause.

"I tell you what," said Girardi, "The kid --even though he had his struggles at the plate-- played tremendous defense for them. He's fun to watch."

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Nationals avoid arbitration, reach deal with Bryce Harper and three others

Nationals avoid arbitration, reach deal with Bryce Harper and three others

The Washington Nationals avoided arbitration and agreed to one-year deals today with Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Tanner Roark and newly acquired catcher Derek Norris.

If team's and players didn't agree to contracts by today's 1 p.m. ET deadline, an independent arbitrator will rule on the contract at a later date and decide how much the player will play for in 2017. 

Harper and the Nationals agreed to a $13.625 million deal, which was significantly more than the $9.3 million contract that was projected by MLB Trade Rumors. Last season, coming off his 2015 MVP campaign, Harper made $5 million. The 24-year-old will be a free agent after the 2018 season. 

Harper is coming off a disappointing season by his standards, in which he hit just .243 with 24 homers, which was way down from his total of 42 dingers in 2015. 

According to multiple reports, Rendon signed for $5.8 million, Roark signed for $4.315 million and Norris' deal was for $4.2 million.

Roark made just $543,400 last season, which he vastly out-performed. Roark was one of the most consistent pitchers in the National League last year as he won 16 games and posted a 2.83 ERA in 210 innings of work. 

With today's signings, all of the Nationals' arbitration-eligible players are under contract for 2017. 

Related: Tanner Roark to replace Max Scherzer on World Baseball Classic roster

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LOOK: Bryce Harper got married in suit jacket lined with pictures of wife

LOOK: Bryce Harper got married in suit jacket lined with pictures of wife

Nationals star Bryce Harper has a bold fashion sense, that's for sure. Just take a look at that hair. But he a more romantic fashion risk for his own wedding with a custom suit jacket. 

He opted for a navy blue tuxedo with black piping. It was the lining that really stood out as special. 

If you look closely, you'll see photos of Harper and his wife, Kayla, decorating the lining of the jacket. 

There's also the date of wedding and script reading "Mr. and Mrs. Harper." 

He credited the makers of his tuxedo, Stitched, in the tweet. 

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals’ Bryce Harper ecstatic to see bride on wedding day