Thrilling Win Takes Series.

On Monday, I’ll report about the Symposium I attended yesterday, which was fantastic. For now, my thoughts on today’s series winner against the A’s.

Despite working with a lead before tossing a single pitch, Jeremy Bonderman promptly put he and the Detroit Tigers up against it. After a Magglio Ordonez RBI-double, Bonderman gave the Oakland A’s three runs of their own on four hits. The game would stay 3-1 for the next seven innings until the A’s were forced to call on star middle reliever Justin Duchscherer due to the unavailability of closer Huston Street. Duchscherer hadn’t allowed a run in his first eight innings of the season; he wouldn’t make it through his ninth. The Tigers got four hits and two walks, including the go-ahead walk by Curtis Granderson with the bases loaded to take, and hold, the lead.

Fernando Rodney, in his second inning of work, held the A’s for the 4-3 victory. Speaking of Rodney, the Tigers activated Todd Jones, an off-season acquisition overpaid to become to the Tigers’ closer. I don’t think there will be a controversy until Jones messes up. So basically until he pitches. Believe me, I want him to succeed after that contract (2 years, $11 mil.), but I don’t feel his excellent 2005 numbers are sustainable, especially at 37 (turns 38 next week).

As I watched the replay of the game, thanks to MLB.tv, I was immediately worried by Bonderman’s weak first inning. All I could think was, here we go again. Bonderman always seems to struggle out of the gate before finding a groove in the middle innings. This could be why he has piled up 47 against 32 losses in his short career. Prior to this season, he simply didn’t have an offense capable of climbing out of the holes he left for them. That said, let’s hope he doesn’t have to rely on the offense to continually bail him out going forward. Teams that don’t get to Bonderman in the first three innings are going to find it increasingly tough to get to him at all:

2003-2005 AB R H 2B HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG
Inning 1-3 1026 167 291 67 38 81 217 0.284 0.340 0.474
Inning 4-6 803 122 200 41 27 86 151 0.249 0.319 0.416
Inning 7-9 209 26 57 12 3 17 43 0.273 0.329 0.402

 

His first three innings are brutal by comparison as he continually sticks himself in a hole. If he alleviates the early inning problems, the middle and later innings should also improve because he won’t be pressing to make up for the early mistakes. Bonderman is still in need of some polish to become a consistent, quality starter.

And he has got to work on his prepartion for the start of games if he ever expects to become the top-flight starter his talent suggests he can become. Thankfully, he was bailed out on Thursday afternoon and the Tigers head up the coast to start a set with Seattle with a series win, 2-1, and a record a game above .500 at 9-7.

About a week and a half ago, I said that Chris Shelton and Dan Johnson would end with similar numbers come October. I will stand by it and take the fire that is sure to beset the inbox, because at this point, Johnson would have to make a helluva comeback from a .029 batting average and .170 OPS to catch up to Shelton. Hell, he needs a comeback of epic proportions to catch Rondell White at this point. In fact, Johnson is likely headed for a demotion as his struggles simply don’t seem to be improving.

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