Bonderman beats Yanks for first win since 2010
Backed by four-run fourth, righty hurls six solid innings of one-run ball
SEATTLE -- Considering what Jeremy Bonderman has been through over the last five years, a one-run deficit in the first inning on Friday night against the Yankees after an unsightly loss in his previous start probably didn't seem like that big of a deal.
Prior to Friday, Bonderman, 30, had endured the following: a blood clot in the axillary vein of his right shoulder that ruined his 2008 season after he had become a big part of Detroit's rotation; an outing the following June, after which he couldn't pitch for the remainder of the season because of recurring pain; thoracic-outlet surgery and a rib resection; and the disappointment of a subpar 2010 and the haze of '11 and '12, when he didn't pitch at all. Throw in a Tommy John surgery for good measure.
Now imagine the joy of Friday: a tidy six innings of three-hit, one-run ball; a four-run fourth inning by Seattle's offense; and a 4-1 final score before 26,248 fans in his home state of Washington that cemented Bonderman's first Major League victory since Sept. 8, 2010.
"It feels amazing," Bonderman said. "It's been a long time, almost three years. So getting back on the field and feeling like you can compete and hold your own feels really good."
Not only did the win raise the spirits of Bonderman, who signed with the Mariners in the offseason and accepted a role on the Triple-A Tacoma club to start the season before being called up Sunday, but it buoyed a beleaguered Seattle team that had lost to the White Sox in excruciating fashion in 16 innings Wednesday and then to the Yankees in the series opener Thursday in rather lackluster fashion.
Bonderman needed it after his outing Sunday, when he made his first big league start in 975 days and promptly gave up seven runs on nine hits, including three home runs, to the Twins in a 10-0 drubbing that saw him last 4 2/3 innings.
And on Friday, it didn't look promising early, when he gave up a Brett Gardner leadoff double, walked Robinson Cano and allowed the game's first run on Travis Hafner's RBI fielder's choice. Bonderman labored through that inning, throwing 22 pitches, and throwing another 28 in the second inning.
Then something clicked with his delivery. He started hitting the low 90s on his fastball. He got quick swings, quick outs. He threw 11 pitches in the third inning and six in the fourth.
After Vernon Wells reached via a Brendan Ryan error to start the second inning and former Mariners great Ichiro Suzuki singled Wells to second base, Bonderman retired the next nine batters. By the time he had cruised through the sixth, he had thrown 97 pitches and struck out two while walking one.
"He kept us off balance and kept us guessing," Yankees catcher Chris Stewart said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't string good at-bats together against him. ... He knows how to pitch. He's been there before."
Bonderman said the key was not overthrowing -- something he admitted to doing in the Minnesota outing.
"I just slowed it down," Bonderman said. "I didn't try to do too much. I just tried to slow the game down, stay in the bottom half of the zone and let the guys behind me do the work."
Those guys were more than happy to do it and rewarded their pitcher for his efforts.
Seattle wasn't doing much against Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda until the fourth, when Michael Morse hit a two-out ground-rule double to left-center and some floodgates were pushed open. Nick Franklin and Kelly Shoppach worked successive walks to load the bases, and Ryan made up for his gaffe in the field by lining a two-run base hit to right.
"I tried to do my best Kyle Seager impression," said Ryan, referring to the Mariners' third baseman who hit a game-tying, two-out, two-strike grand slam in the bottom of the 14th inning on Wednesday. "And luckily, it worked out, you know?"
Endy Chavez followed with a bizarre single of his own, a roller up the middle that went over the pitcher's mound, hit second base, popped up in the air and glanced off stunned Yankees shortstop Reid Brignac's glove long enough to load the bases again.
Jason Bay cashed in on the good fortune, driving in two more runs with a single and giving Bonderman everything he and Mariners relievers Yoervis Medina, Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen (shutout ninth for his 15th save) would need.
"Some good things happened there," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "That's what we talk about as far as stringing at-bats together. We've got to continue to work to be better than that."
But for the most part, Friday belonged to Bonderman ... and the "30-something" family members and friends from his hometown of Pasco on the eastern side of the state for whom he had left tickets.
"We [haven't had] a ton of time around him, but you know what he's gone through to get here, and you see the look in his eye and how competitive he is and everything," Ryan said. "It's awesome to see what he did today and we're happy for him, and I'm sure he feels like it's been a long time coming, but hopefully it was all worth it."
Bonderman wasn't about to argue with those sentiments.
"I'm definitely very happy with getting the win, and being back on a big league field is something you don't take for granted," he said.
"So it's just fun to have the opportunity to go out and play."