Detroit Tigers ace Jeremy Bonderman simply cannot catch a break so far this season. On Opening Day at Comerica Park, Bonderman surrendered three runs in the first inning, but then settled in after that, pitching six solid innings without giving up any more runs, while striking out three. The Tigers, despite tying the game late, lost in 10 innings. In his second start, Bonderman was even better. He gave up a solo home run in the first inning, but after that, was practically unhittable. He gave up two runs in six innings, only walked one, and struck out eight. And while the Tigers won 3-2, they only did so after Pudge Rodriguez hit a three-run home run in the top of the 9th inning. Then, last night, Bonderman battled Cy Young Award Winner Roy Halladay in a pitcher's duel which had to be seen to be believed. Bonderman gave up a lead-off home run to Alex Rios, but did not give up a run after that, pitching 9 innings of 1 run, 0 walk baseball, with four strikeouts. Did he pick up the win? Nope. The Tigers could only manage one solo home run themselves off of Halladay, and they lost again in 10 innings.
So, while Bonderman is 0-0 on the season, his ERA is 2.57 and his strikeout to walk ratio is an incredible 15/3. The problem has been the Tigers woeful offense, which has scored only 4 runs for Bonderman while he has been on the mound (not counting Pudge's 3-run home run which happened only after Bonderman left the game). Friday night's game with Hallday was something else. Bonderman was dealing, and if he had even the slightest bit of offense, he may be one of the top stories in baseball this year with how well he's pitching. It always seems like some Tigers pitcher gets the short end of the stick when it comes to run support. The last few years, it seemed like that guy was Nate Robertson. Robertson had a 3.84 ERA last season, but his record was only 13-13. This year, so far, Robertson is 2-0 (and he's been great in his starts) while Bonderman is 0-0 with no support.
The only slightly concerning aspect to Bonderman's game (and with a sub 2.60 ERA and coming off a 9 inning, 1 run performance, it is hard to find anything) is that continuing a trend from last season, Bonderman seems to get himself into trouble in the first inning. Of the 6 runs Bonderman has surrendered in his 21 innings of work, 5 have come in the first inning, including two solo home runs. To his credit though, Bonderman never let's those starts get him off his game, and as he proved Friday night, he is capable of shutting down an offense for the rest of the game no matter what happens in the first inning. It's just too bad the Tigers offense has not been able to match what Bonderman has provided them on the field, because otherwise, he would be 3-0 and well on his way.
One quick Tigers blog link before I go. I'm going to write this up in my MLive.com Detroit Tigers blog as well, but it's so interesting I wanted to point it out here too. Bill over at the Detroit Tigers Weblog has taken a statistical look at Joel Zumaya's two inning save against Toronto Thursday night. Just fascinating stuff. Here are some of the stats Bill found.
* Average fastball was 100.5 MPH and the median was 100.6
* He threw 7 off speed pitches and 20 fastballs.
* The offspeed stuff averaged 84.2MPH
* Fourteen of the fastballs were 100MPH+
* 7 pitches were balls, 8 were called strikes, 3 were swung on and missed, 4 were fouled off, and 5 were put in play