Justin Verlander was dealing on Wednesday night. He tossed 4 2/3 hitless innings against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the World Series, the only blemish on his pitching line an eight-pitch walk to Chris Taylor in the fourth. The rest of the Dodgers’ lineup was denied a chance to get on base, let alone get on the board, while the Astros took a 1-0 lead in the third on Alex Bregman‘s RBI single.
With two outs and a 2-1 count in the fifth, Joc Pederson finally found a pitch to his liking. He roped Verlander’s hanging slider out to center field, curving it just over the wall for a solo home run: his first of the postseason.
The 370-foot blast effectively ended Verlander’s bid for a no-hitter; had he persevered through the remaining 4 1/3 innings, he would’ve been the first pitcher to no-hit a World Series opponent since Don Larsen’s Game 5 perfecto against the 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Dodgers are currently tied 1-1 with the Astros in the bottom of the sixth.
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.