Tigers lead the series 1-0
|Fri 04/09|| WP: Rick Porcello (1 - 0) |
SV: Jose Valverde
LP: David Huff (0 - 1)
|5 - 2 win|
|Sun 04/11||1:05 PM EDT|
Jeremy Bonderman starts his first game for the Tigers since June 8th of last year (Bonderman's only start of '09), as he faces the Indians this afternoon. It's also his first start at Comerica since May '08, and supposedly his first fully healthy start in over 2 years.
Quite a few firsts for the veteran righty hurler.
The Bonderman we see on the mound today is a different pitcher from the 2 pitch hard thrower we saw from 2003-2007, before injuries and surgery took their toll. He no longer has the plus fastball, topping out at 91-92 MPH instead of 96-97. But, maybe, just maybe, Bonderman may finally have the oft hoped for and written about 3rd pitch. But it's not the changeup we heard he was working on every spring since '03.
His new pitch is a splitter.
Word is Bonderman feels quite confident in the split-finger fastball, more confident than he ever felt during his annual (and eventually abandoned) experiments with a change.
Via Jason Beck of MLB.com:
He picked up with splitter with input from Tigers bullpen coach Jeff Jones and current Cardinals pitcher Brad Penny, and he's going to sink or swim with it. If he can feel as good about it in the regular season as he did in his final two starts of Spring Training, hitters are probably going to see quite a bit of it. He could never say that about a changeup in any of the years he tried that, which explains why it became almost an annual one-liner each spring.
The difference with the splitter, he said, "It's actually a pitch I can use. The last two times I've pitched I feel like I've been throwing it for a long time."
We'll see the results of both Bondo's rehab and his new 3rd pitch for the first time with our own eyes against the Tribe.
Facing Bonderman today is Mitch Talbot.
Hey, your guess is as good as mine. From what I can find out via extensive research (a 30 second Google search), Talbot is a 26 year old rookie right hander who was a 2nd round pick of the Astros in '02. He was obtained by the Indians from the Rays via trade last December, and was once part of a trade for Aubrey Huff. (Hell, who hasn't been?) Talbot put up a 3.71 ERA this spring, winning a rotation spot, beating out Aaron Laffey (Who?).
If today's game follows form, Talbot will pitch surprisingly well for 5 or so innings, giving the Tribe a lead. The Tigers, led by the smoking hot bats of Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez (both with a .526 OBP), will then pound the Indians' bullpen into submission, scoring enough runs late in the game for a come from behind win.
It's a strategy that's worked for a 3-1 record, 2nd place in the Central, .5 game behind those dammed Twins.
I doubt it's a sustainable strategy, but for the time being, it's working!
Interesting press notes for today:
Most of the BYB readership figured the Tigers pitching would be the strength of the team, and after 4 games, the staff has not disappointed.
The Tigers are 2nd in among all AL clubs with a 2.68 ERA.
The Tigers' relievers have combined for a 1.80 ERA (15.0 IP/3 ER) through 4 games, 3rd best in the AL.
Odds and sods:
Austin Jackson has started the season with hits in 4 straight games to begin his MLB career. The last Tigers' player to do begin his career in the same way was Clete Thomas in 2008 (Shout out to Clete's Cult!). The last Tigers player to begin his MLB career with hits in his first 5 games is...Devi Cruz? Seriously? Yes, seriously. Cruz began the 1997 season with hits in his first 5 games.
Yesterday's attendance of 45,010 was the largest for a home opener in Comerica Park history, and the second largest crowd in in the history of Comerica. If you were part of the huge throng yesterday, congratulate yourself on a job well done!
A. Cabrera ss
G. Sizemore cf
S. Choo rf
T. Hafner dh
J. Peralta 3b
M. LaPorta 1b
M. Grudzielanek 2b
L. Marson c
M. Brantley lf
A. Jackson cf
J. Damon lf
M. Ordonez rf
M. Cabrera 1b
C. Guillen dh
B. Inge 3b
S. Sizemore 2b
A. Everett ss