Tigers 6, Indians 5: Lights-out Jeremy Bonderman earns first win as a Tiger since 2010

Jason Miller

It took 14 innings, but the Tigers outlasted the Indians 6-5, taking a six-game lead in the Central. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder had huge hits, but it was Jeremy Bonderman's clutch relief which ultimately rescued the Tigers from defeat.

Jeremy Bonderman last pitched for the Detroit Tigers in 2010, retiring due to injury. The 30-year-old right-hander returned to the game this season with the Mariners, and was recently picked up by the Tigers as relief insurance. That signing paid off tonight, Bonderman picking up the victory with three innings of shutout relief, the Tigers taking down the Cleveland Indians 6-5 in 14 innings.

Bonderman (2-3) was the winning pitcher, but the Tigers needed seven arms to get through the game. Starter Doug Fister was pulled after two runs and seven hits over six innings. Between Bonderman, Bruce Rondon and Jose Veras, the three relievers combined for six shutout innings. Joaquin Benoit pitched the 14th inning, earning his 14th save.

Indians rookie starter Danny Salazar was impressive in his 7 2/3 innings of work, throwing in the high 90s while allowing four runs on seven hits. The Tribe would need to use seven pitchers in all. The sixth, Bryan Shaw, took the loss, allowing two runs in the top of the 14th.

Prince Fielder had a pair of hits, including the game-winning double, and two RBIs. Miguel Cabrera gave the Tigers the lead in the eighth, ending Salazar's night with a two-run home run. Austin Jackson also homered for the Tigers, along with a 14th-inning double to start the winning rally.

For the Indians, Nick Swisher had three hits and two RBIs. Yan Gomes drove in a pair with a home run, Michael Bourn also added an RBI with a late single.

Back in April, no one would have predicted Jeremy Bonderman, whose career was thought to be over after suffering a severe injury in 2009 and posting a 5.53 ERA in 2010, would come through with a clutch performance in a huge series the middle of a pennant race to win a game. Factor in the win would be with the Tigers, and the odds would have to be off the charts.

Just more proof baseball is a funny, funny game. But if you are a fan of the Indians, "funny" is the last word you would use.

Danny Salazar (hitting his 90s on the Progressive Field radar) and Doug Fister had uneventful first innings. Top of two, the Tigers loaded the bases with two out. Victor Martinez and Brayan Pena singled, Salazar walking Ramon Santiago on four pitches with two out.

First pitch swinging, Jose Iglesias didn't hit the ball hard, but still made Salazar pay for the base on balls. The rookie shortstop dropped an RBI single in short center, Martinez scoring easily. But Michael Bourn's throw fwas on target, and Pena was out at the plate. Inning over, but the Tigers drew first blood, taking a 1-0 lead. With two out and the slumping Austin Jackson up next, I don't blame Tom Brookens for sending the Food Truck.

Given a lead, Fister followed through with a shutdown bottom of the second. After issuing a lead off walk to Michael Brantley, Fister helped himself by snagging Carlos Santana's comebacker and starting a nicely turned 1-6-3 double play.

Top of three, Salazar bounced back by striking out the side, including Miguel Cabrera for a second time. Salazar had six whiffs through three.

Fister made a mistake to the first batter he faced in the third, allowing the Indians to knot the score. Fister hung an inside breaking pitch in Yan Gomes' happy zone, yanking it over the high wall in left. Gomes' eighth home run of the season tied the game at 1-all.

Fister compounded matters by walking the speedy Bourn with one out. Nick Swisher then gave the bros a reason to cheer, launching a fly ball off the base of the wall in left center. Bourn easily scored on the two base hit, Swisher giving the Indians a 2-1 lead. Fister got out of further trouble, ultimately stranding Swisher at third by striking out Asdrubal Cabrera to end the rally.

Top of four, a very efficient Salazar set the side down in order for a second straight inning. Fister was forced to work out of a jam in the bottom half of the inning. Brantley led off by doubling off the base of the wall in dead center. Fister painfully plunked Gomes in the gut with two out (it did not appear at all to be a purpose pitch), but ended the inning on a Mike Aviles ground ball.

Meanwhile, Salazar was dealing. The rookie needing only ten pitches in a 1-2-3 fifth inning, having now retired nine consecutive Tigers. Things were not looking good for the Tigers, as Salazar's pitch count was in fine shape at 60.

Bottom of five, Fister was pitching himself into another jam. Swisher and Jason Kipnis reaching on back-to-back one-out singles. But thanks to some slick glove work by Iglesias on a double play, Fister was able to get out of the fifth unscathed. Cabrera bounced a slow roller up the middle, Iglesias scooped up the ball, stepped on the bag, and fired to first for in one of the smoother turns you'll ever see.

Just as it looked like Salazar had the Tigers' number and Jackson would continue slumping ... home run! Salazar hung a full count breaking ball, Jackson jumped over it, sending a line drive over the 19' high wall in left. Jackson's eighth home run tied the game at 2-2 (MLB.com video).

Salazar, throwing BBs, retired the next three Tigers in order. Salazar definitely had Cabrera's number, throwing a 100 MPH fastball by him for his eighth strikeout.

Pitch count at 89, Fister likely had one more inning in him and remained on the mound to start the bottom of the sixth. Both Al Alburquerque and Phil Coke were warming up, and it appeared one of them would be soon needed. Fister looked to be in deep trouble after Brantley reached on an infield single, then fell behind Santana 3-1. The count full, Brantley was off on the pitch. The Tigers were able to pull off the strike 'em out, throw 'em out. Santana was punched out out looking, Iglesias blocking the bag with his foot while laying the tag on Brantley.

Despite the double play, Fister would be forced to strike out the side. Jason Giambi struck out on a pitch in the dirt which got away from Pena. Pena threw him out at first and replays confirmed it, but the umpires disagreed. Thanks to baseball's beloved human element, Fister was forced to end the inning a second time by striking out Gomes.

Salazar still on the mound with one down in the seventh, Don Kelly lashed what should have been a double to right. But Swisher completely misplayed the bounce off the wall, the E-9 allowing Kelly to reach third standing up. In need of a fly ball, Pena popped up to short for the second out. Salazar was able to pitch out of trouble thanks to home plate umpire Chris Guccione calling strike three on a shoulder-high breaking ball.

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Bottom of the seventh, despite Jose Veras, Bruce Rondon and Drew Smyly available, Alburquerque was on the mound for the Tigers. Unfortunately, Alburquerque still isn't very good. Aviles drilled a hanging slider into the left center field gap for a lead-off double. With one out, Swisher just missed a home run, doubling off the center field wall to give the Indians back the lead at 3-2.

Suddenly realizing Alburquerque has no business pitching in high leverage situations, Jim Leyland replaced him with Smyly. The shutdown lefty did just that, getting the final two outs of the inning to keep the Tigers with a run.

Looking for offense against Salazar, Leyland decided to pinch hit Andy Dirks for Iglesias. Dirks popped up. then Jackson struck out. Things were looking dire.

The Cleveland crowd going nuts, Hunter extended the inning by slapping a single to center. That hit would prove huge.

"Well, I wasn't going to pinch hit for him!" -Jim Leyland on Miguel Cabrera's eighth inning at bat

The situation: Tigers down a run, two outs, runner on first and the reigning MVP at the plate against a rookie fire-baller who had struck out said MVP in three straight at bats.

Cabrera wasn't about to be struck out a fourth time. Salazar reared back and fired a 96 MPH fastball ...right down the middle. Cabrera absolutely crushed it, the Tribe outfielders not bothering to to take more than a few steps before watching the ball sail into the right center field seats over 400' feet away. Cabrera's 33rd home run and RBIs 101 and 102 gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead (MLB.com video).

Terry Francona had rolled the dice one too many times. Salazar had been brilliant, but was left in the game a batter too long. Lefty Rich Hill would get the Indians out of the eighth without further damage, the Tigers holding a 4-3 lead.

Cabrera was done for the night, replaced defensively by Kelly. Smyly remained on the mound for the bottom of the eighth. But the Indians were not going down quietly. Brantley lined a lead off double into the gap in right center, and the drums started pounding again.

Make it back-to-back doubles, Santana ripping a line drive off the left field wall, Dirks unable to male a leaping catch in left. Brantley, not sure if the ball would be caught, got a very late start and was forced to stop at third.

No one out and runners on second and third, strategy ensued. Francona called on the owner of a new two year contract, ex-Tiger Ryan Raburn, to pinch hit for Giambi. Leyland, in need of strikeouts, called on his own fire-baller, Bruce Rondon.

"I didn't want to give them the winning run if a ground ball gets through." "Simple arithmetic to me." -Leyland on why he didn't pull in the infield

Rondon was the victor in the battle, striking out Raburn on three pitches of 101, 102 and 103 MPH. (Baseball Nation has the GIFS) But the Tigers and Rondon still needed two more outs. With the infield back, Rondon couldn't get the strikeout. Gomes was able to drive in the tying run with a ground ball to short.

Game tied at 4-all, Rondon got the final out, Santiago running down Aviles looper in short center. Rondon may have allowed an inherited runner to score, but he did not allow a hard hit ball and pitched awfully damn well.

Top of nine and needing three outs, Chris Perez was nowhere to be seen. Francona left Hill on the mound to face the lefty, Kelly. Donnie Baseball worked a walk. Pena was going to lay one down, but Hill had trouble throwing strikes. The bunt called off, Pena ripped a single to left, Kelly making a big turn, but stopping at second.

A legit bunting situation on tap, Santiago would have to do so against right-hander Cody Allen. Santiago laid down a nice bunt, moving the runners into scoring position. Francona elected to walk Dirks, setting up a double play and loading the bases for Jackson. But his struggles continued, popping up to short right, Kelly unable to tag. Hunter ended the inning with a loud out, a line drive directly at Stubbs in right.

After Rondon's impressive eighth, Leyland rolled with Heavy B in the ninth. Factoring in the pressure of the situation, Rondon finished off what was his best outing of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth. Rondon set down six straight, striking out three.

On to extras, where the Tigers are 4-9 and the Indians 7-1. The Tribe also have nine walk-off wins on the season (as I've said before, it feels as if all nine were against the White Sox).

Francona went to his closer, Perez, to start extra innings. Unsurprisingly, things got weird. Hernan Perez struck out, but reached first on a wild pitch. Fielder struck out and was plunked by C. Perez at the same time. It originally looked like a wild pitch, H. Perez motoring all the way to third. But the umps made the correct call, Fielder was out and H. Perez had to return to first base.

Martinez at the plate, H. Perez made a horrible rookie mistake. C. Perez caught him leaning, and picked him off. Of course, Martinez then lined a single to left. Kelly made a bid, but only had warning-track power. His fly ball to deep right ended a bizarre inning.

Dave Hogg of the AP described the top of the tenth best.

Bottom half of the 11th, Veras was on the mound for the Tigers while reclamation project Jeremy Bonderman was warming up. Veras was stellar, tossing a ten-pitch 1-2-3 inning.

The Tribe only went with Perez for one inning, calling on Joe Hill for the top of the 11th. Pena led off with an opposite field single, looking to have tweaked his hamstring in the process. Santiago followed with a line shot, but right at Kipnis. In the second Tigers' base running gaffe in two innings, Pena had taken several steps toward second and was easily doubled off. After Dirks worked a walk, Jackson struck out to end the inning, his early home run not having shook him out of a funk.

The return of Mr. Snappy came in the bottom half of the 11th. Jeremy Bonderman made his first appearance for the Tigers since October 1, 2010. Bonderman and Mr. Snappy looked to be in late-2006 form, retiring the Tribe in order on two strikeouts and a comebacker. We had officially entered the Twilight Zone.

Top of 12, the offensively crippled Tigers were missing Cabrera and could do nothing with the newest Tribe pitcher, Bryan Shaw. Fielder worked a two-out walk, but Martinez struck out on pitch closer to his chest than the plate.

After 13 straight Indians had been retired, the bullpen finally allowed a base runner with one out in the 12th. Stubbs singled to center off Bonderman. Before he could get a chance to steal, Stubbs was quickly eliminated on a 6-4-3 double play, the fourth of the night for the Tigers. The Twilight Zone, indeed.

Top of 13, Santiago laid down a wonderful bunt for a base hit with two out, but Dirks struck out looking, the game still tied.

Bottom of 13, Bonderman, likely in for the duration (or until the Tigers took a lead), was now in his third inning of work. Jackson has been having trouble with the bat, but his glove still works fine. He covered a ton of ground to make a leaping catch in front of the wall on Cabrera's drive to in left center for the first out. Given that help, Bonderman needed just six pitches to retire the side.

Leading off the 14th, Jackson reached base for the second time, legging out a double on a liner to left. Hunter went the opposite way, and though his line dive was caught by Stubbs, he advanced Jackson to third. Perez, in a nice at-bat, worked the count full before drawing a walk.

Runners on the corners and one out, Francona went to what was left of his bullpen. Lefty Mark Rzepcynski entered the game to face Fielder. The slumping first baseman quickly fell behind in the count 0-2. Hoping he would fish, Rzepcynski left his big bender a little too close to the outside of the plate. Fielder reached out and lashed a liner into the left-center gap, both Jackson and Perez racing across the plate to give the Tigers a 6-4 advantage (MLB.com video).

Rzepcynski would get out of the 14th inning without further damage, but the Tigers' shorthanded offense had already done enough.

Stunningly, in his first appearance for the Tigers since 2010, Bonderman was now in line for the win in relief. It was up to closer Joaquin Benoit to get it for him.

Benoit got the first two outs fairly easily, but Drama with a capital D ensued.

Aviles extended the game with single. At the plate, Bourn became the tying run. The always troublesome Bourn hit a liner which found the gap in right center, Aviles scoring to pull the Tribe within a run at 6-5.

As Benoit was facing Stubbs, he overthrew his slider. It was in the dirt and to the backstop, Bourn taking third. The count now 2-2 and the tying run 90 feet away, Benoit's changeup broke down and inside.

Stubbs swung over the Vulcan change for strike three!

GAME OVER! After 14 innings and 4:47, your final score is Tigers 6, Indians 5. Jim Leyland summed the marathon win up in six words:

"Oh, boy. That was a dandy!"

The Tigers win their 11th straight game, and 15-of-16, much in thanks to lights out relief from Jeremy Bonderman. The same Jeremy Bonderman who was out of baseball at this time last year and last pitched for the Tigers in 2010.

What a wild, crazy, exhausting (Did I say crazy?) victory! The Tribe have to be utterly demoralized after losing two of the three games at home in soul crushing fashion.

I'm too tired to come up with much else.

The Tigers are now 22 games over break even at 67-45, their lead in the Central now a season-high six games (previous high was 5 1/2 games on June 9-11). Thanks to three straight losses, the Tribe now have more pressing concerns than the Tigers. The 62-52 Indians are only one game up in the loss column over the surging Royals, who are 81/2 back of Detroit at 58-53.

The series finale features Max Scherzer (16-1, 2.85 ERA) taking on Tribe right-hander Zach McAllister (4-6, 3.47 ERA). Scherzer has been brilliant of late, 3-0, 0.83 in his last three starts, not allowing a run in his last 13 2/3 innings. In McAllister's last start, the tall righty no-hit the Marlins for five innings before getting knocked out of the game in the sixth, receiving a no-decision. McAllister is 0-1, 3.63 in his last three appearances. The getaway day first pitch is set for 7:08 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:

It looks more like an earthquake than the graph of a baseball game.


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

Patrick is in Cleveland, up close and personal with Donnie Baseball.

Tribe rookie starter Danny Salazar had an impressive 1-2-3 first inning, including a strikeout of Miguel Cabrera.

While the Indians were taking a lead in the third, there was more bad news out of Ohio. This time it was coming from the Mud Hens.

Later reports were Infante was held out of the lineup due to "soreness." When hearing the news, Tigers fans break out their Colby Rasmus voodoo dolls .. again.

Upset Tribe fan heard over the FSD broadcast after Doug Fister hit Yan Gomes with a pitch in the fourth:

"YOU DID THAT ON PURPOSE!"

Please. Fister hits EVERYBODY. He now leads the league in HBP with 15. Next closest on the Tigers is Justin Verlander with three.

Frustration was rising as the Tigers trailed, resulting in both unpopular opinion:

And popular opinion:

A certain BYB contributor went straight to the point after Al Alburquerque gave back the lead on a pair of doubles.

The attendance at Progressive Field was a sad 20,169. Amazing. But they did have enough fans in attendance to start a chant.

Detroit's (actually former BYB contributor @MattinToledo's) retort:

One more...

I'm normally anti-bunt, but the sacrifice in the ninth is one I have no issue with. In need of just one run with no one out, two on and a .203 hitting Santiago at the plate, a bunt made sense. It ultimately didn't work out, but I'm not going to roast Leyland for it.

After Jeremy Bonderman's excellent 11th inning, nostalgia ruled. The fourth Stooge, Emil Sitka, nailed it in the game thread:

Bondo sets 'em down 1-2-3
Chris Shelton, Alexis Gomez, and Marcus Thames due up for Detroit

Before the game-winning hit, it was getting bad for Prince Fielder. Fans were thrilled when he walks.

Proof we're in the Twilight zone.

THREE ROARS:

Jeremy Bonderman: Earns his first-ever win in relief and first win as a Tiger since September 2010.

Prince Fielder: Was going to be on the hisses list, then won the game with a 14th-inning double.

Miguel Cabrera: This recap goes live a good two hours earlier if Cabrera doesn't take Salazar to school with his two-run homer in the eighth.

BONUS ROARS:

Doug Fister: Wasn't at his sharpest, but Fister battled to a quality start, allowing two runs in six innings.

Bruce Rondon: Ultimately pitched great in a very high leverage situation. Retired all six batters he faced.

Jose Veras: Three up, three down, no problem.

Austin Jackson: Had some awful at bats, but Jackson also homered and started the game-winning rally with a leg double. Even when he's been slumping, it hasn't affected Jackson's defense.

Brayan Pena: Caught all 14 innings, chipped in with three hits.

THREE HISSES:

Winners of 11 straight, three in a row over the second-place Tribe, two in dramatic fashion. I'm not in any mood to rain on what has been a wonderful parade.

ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 3,662
Total commenters 90
Commenter list 13194013, Alex Baker, Arvay7, BadCompany22, BigAl, Cabbylander, CharlieMarley, DJ Screw, DSafetyGuy, Dale S, Dave Hogg, DeKaF, Designated for Assignment, DetroitSports, Elfuego51, Emil Sitka, FHP, Fielder'sChoice,Flying J, FrankWyt, GVLaker09, HookSlide, JWurm, J_the_Man, Jacob30, JerseyTigerFan, Jim Bunn, Joaquin on Sunshine, JoeLisboa, JonniFutbol, Jose Valverezias, Keith-Allen, Kurt Mensching, MSUDersh, Mark in Chicago,Matthew Malek, MayoSmith's ghost, Michigan&TrumbullinLA, MotorCityCat, NCDee, Nonsuch Ned, NorthLeft12,Parisian Tiger, RationalSportsFan, RedWingedLigerFan, Rob Rogacki, SCS100, SanDiegoMick, Singledigit,SonataArctica, SpartanBoiler, SpartanHT, Starsailor, TN Ben, There Can Only Be One Verlander, Thorpac,Tigerdog1, TomduhB, Trout Jefferson, Verlanderful, Vreeland2, XFizzle, aarone46, aelix, ahtrap, beelze,bowling255, canadien21, dishnet34, dpsmallwood, easeup53, frisbeepilot, fxct, holly hobby, japobere, jhitts08,jsara18, kirdo, kland83, knucklescarbone, lesmanalim, mrsunshine, nicolas08, rbbaker, rock n rye, sauce1977,stevenyc, swish330, texastigerfan, tigerlover
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/7/4597332/game-112-tigers-at-indians-7-05-p-m/in/4363285http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/7/4600106/game-112-overflow-tigers-at-indians/in/4363285http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/7/4600268/game-112-overflow-2-tigers-at-indians/in/4363285http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/7/4600412/game-112-overflow-3-tigers-at-indians/in/4363285http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/7/4600576/game-112-overflow-4-tigers-at-indians/in/4363285

THE CENTURY CLUB:

# Commenter # Comments
1 RedWingedLigerFan 254
2 kland83 190
3 SanDiegoMick 189
4 Joaquin on Sunshine 187
5 stevenyc 141
6 Jacob30 140
7 Jose Valverezias 136
8 J_the_Man 131
9 SpartanHT 114
10 JerseyTigerFan 108
11 Singledigit 106
12 Mark in Chicago 105
13 Verlanderful 102
14 rock n rye 100

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
21 NCDee Hahahahahahahahahaha
15 BigAl This reply nailed it
9 stevenyc YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME
8 RedWingedLigerFan CLEANER!!
8 Verlanderful HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
8 Rob Rogacki Matt is on fire
7 BigAl Removes Fielder from the Three Hisses list
7 Verlanderful HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6 Verlanderful HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6 Verlanderful HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6 Verlanderful HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6 NCDee BONDO WIN GAME!
6 Verlanderful HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6 BigAl IT'S GUM TIME!
6 Verlanderful HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6 NCDee I am ready.
6 Verlanderful HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6 Verlanderful HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GAME 111 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Don Kelly's three hits, a home run and three RBIs topped Justin Verlander allowing one run and four hits over eight innings in the PotG vote, 57%-43%.

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