So much for last night's game being a turning point for the Detroit Tigers. That was wishful thinking anyway, given the handful of times we've hoped for any sort of hopeful sign in recent weeks, only to be shown that it was merely a blip in what's become a disturbing, disheartening losing trend.
And after showing some promise in his last two starts, Jeremy Bonderman fell off the table once again when his team needed a competitive effort. That's what it's come to: Bondo doesn't have to be spectacular. We'd settle for decent right now.
That makes eight straight games in which Bonderman hasn't gotten a win. And eight is definitely more than enough. The Tigers needed to show they could string some kind of positive streak together against a top American League team. Instead, the Yankees knocked them into the corner pocket.
Yet again, Bonderman let the other team put runs on the board before his lineup even came up to bat. How often are you going to beat the New York Yankees (or any team, for that matter) after spotting them a two-run lead? What's worse is that Bonderman doesn't seem close at all to resolving this issue.
Does Bonderman try too hard to throw strikes early in the game, thus serving up more hittable pitches? Is he trying too hard to establish something, rather than following the game plan and settling into a comfortable rhythm? Could he be too amped up when he begins the game? Did he fall into a cave as a young child, where he was attacked by evil, clawing first innings, burdening him with a debilitating fear and psychological barrier that requires going to Tibet and training with ninjas to conquer? (Okay, maybe that's getting a bit carried away. I watched Batman Begins again tonight...)
Or were Bonderman's problems more physical tonight? The eye-popping number in his line score is zero strikeouts. How many times has that happened for Bonderman? That would be never. In 148 career starts, he's recorded at least one strikeout. Clearly, he wasn't working with the good stuff tonight.
What might be most troubling of all is that neither Chuck Hernandez or Jeff Jones seem to able to figure out just how to make things smoother for Bonderman in the first inning. Is it too easy to lay this on the coaches? Or is long past time we begin to look at how they're working with certain pitchers?
One thing is for certain. If Bonderman and the Tigers don't figure out what's wrong and get it together soon, Bonderman's not-so-magic 8-ball of losing has a pretty bleak answer to the question of how the rest of this season will go.