DETROIT – Justin Verlander was on the mound, giving the Detroit Tigers a good shot at keeping the distinction of being baseball’s only undefeated team.
Chris Tillman, though, outpitched Verlander while working into the ninth inning to help the Baltimore Orioles avoid a sweep and hand Detroit its first loss 3-1 Sunday.
Verlander (0-1) gave up two runs on five hits and two walks over eight innings. He struck out three, moving past Tommy Bridges and into fourth place on the franchise’s all-time list with 1,674 in his career, but isn’t pleased with that facet of his game after fanning just two in his first start.
You get a feel for strikeouts and my feel for those isn’t there yet, Verlander said. I’m not executing as well as I should or maybe overtrying a little bit with two strikes and hanging stuff.
Verlander trails Mickey Lolich (2,679), Jack Morris (1,980) and Hal Newhouser (1,770) in the franchise’s record books.
Tillman (1-0) gave up five hits, including Torii Hunter’s solo homer in the fourth, in a career-high matching 8 1/3 innings.
Some guys see Verlander in the opposite slot and they shy away, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. Tillman takes that as a challenge.
Tommy Hunter entered in the ninth with Victor Martinez on second and got the last two batters for the his second save.
To be 4-1 right now is pretty cool, Torii Hunter said. It’s all about getting into May and June to know what kind of team you really have. I don’t get caught up too much in the beginning.