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Seems like old times for Bonderman, leads Tigers to 4-2 victory

Final - 4.10.2010 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cleveland Indians 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 3 0
Detroit Tigers 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 X 4 6 0
WP: Jeremy Bonderman (1 - 0)
SV: Ryan Perry (1)
LP: Mitch Talbot (0 - 1)

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Fangraphs win probability

Where's Jeremy Bonderman and his awful 1st innings? Because the pitcher we saw dominate for long stretches today wasn't the Bonderman we were annoyed with to no end, thanks to habitually putting the Tigers in a 1st inning hole.

This Jeremy Bonderman, he of the new splitter and less velocity, was in command from the start, retiring the first 11 Indians hitters he faced. He tired somewhat in the 4th, when a walk, single and wild pitch led to an Indians run. But Bondo finished his first start at Comerica since 2008 with a flourish, sending the Indians down 1-2-3 in the 5th.

Bonderman left the game after pitching 5 full innings, giving up only 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB and 5 K. A very impressive performance for the veteran (though it's hard to believe Bondo is only 27 years old) righty.

Yes, it's only one game, but it was an extremely encouraging one. Today Bonderman was as effective as he was at his best in 2006 and the first half of 2007. If Bondo can pitch solidly as the number 4 starter, it bodes damn well for the Tigers' rotation and their chances at playoff contention.

Jim Leyland gave "The Big Potato", closer Jose Valverde, the day off, along with Joel Zumaya and Phil Coke. Despite the thinner ranks, the bullpen continued their excellent start to the season with Brad Thomas, Fu-Te Ni and Ryan Perry combining for 4 innings of 2 H, 1 run ball. Perry got his first save of the season, of the uneventful, 4 out variety.

Offensively, the Tigers changed their tactics. Instead of winning the game late by putting the hurt to the opposition's relief corps, all the Tigers' runs were scored against Indians starter Mitch Talbot.

Striving to prove the first half of '09 was the fluke, rather than the 2nd half, the smoking hot Magglio Ordonez went yard for the 2nd time this season. His liner over the left field wall in the 1st inning staked the Tigers to a 2-0 lead. They never looked back.

The Tigers had only 6 hits (2 from Brandon Inge), but had plenty of scoring chances (and chances to squander) thanks to 9 base on balls, That's not a typo, gang. The Tigers had 9 walks, and look to be a much more patient team at the plate compared to...well, there is no comparison to recent Tigers teams, as 20 walks in 5 games attest.

After the game, Leyland was actually effusive over Bondo's strong performance.

"That was really Jeremy Bonderman the pitcher," manager Jim Leyland said, "not Jeremy Bonderman the 95-96 mph fastball, hard slider. He pitched, and that's the adjustment that he's going to have to make. We're tickled to death today. That's progress, and that's something you have to build on."

Or as Leyland said at another point, "That's really the best I've seen him pitch in a long time."

Bonderman was just glad to be back on the diamond.

"It was fun to just get back on the mound, compete and be who I am and not worry about my arm hurting," he said. "It’s been a long journey back, but I’m hoping I got 35 more starts in and hopefully we can do something special."

It was also nice to not worry about the Tigers being down 2-3 runs in the 1st inning. Let's hope this becomes the typical Bonderman performance, so we can finally put to rest the fear of his blowing up in the 1st inning of every start.

Comment of the Night:

A discussion took place in the gamethread debating the number of pitches the Tribe's starter had at his disposal. According to RealityisOptionable, Mitch Talbot has a 4 pitch arsenal.

Oh, I thought is 4 pitches are Home Run, Triple, Double, Single

Funny, but Talbot has 5 pitches. You forgot walk!