The Tigers entered Sunday afternoon’s affair against the Orioles as baseball’s only without a loss at 4-0, but they are undefeated no more. Starter Justin Verlander pitched well, allowing two runs over eight innings, but was out-dueled by Orioles starter Chris Tillman. The soon-to-be 26-year-old right-hander allowed just one run in 8 1/3 innings and was backed by just enough offense — including an eighth-inning Adam Jones sacrifice fly to break a 1-1 tie, and a ninth-inning Matt Wieters solo home run to add an insurance run — to grab the victory.
Overall, Tillman allowed five hits and a walk while striking out five. The only damage come on a fifth-inning Torii Hunter solo home run. Tommy Hunter got the final two outs of the ninth inning to nail down the win, getting his second save in the process. Victor Martinez was the only Tiger with multiple hits. Similarly, Nick Markakis was the only Oriole with multiple hits.
The Nationals were baseball’s final undefeated team last season, starting out 3-0 before losing 15-0 to the Reds in the fourth game of the season to end the dream.
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.