photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
JEREMY BONDERMAN THREW A 1-2-3 FIRST INNING.
Release the tigers, sound the trumpets, go forth and dance in the streets, for our long Detroitan nightmare is over! Or at least temporarily abated! Can you see it peeking out, there? It’s the REAL Jeremy Bonderman.
So what happened? Did he overcome some intense mental block about first innings? Or did he FINALLY FIGURE OUT THE VERY THING WE’VE BEEN SAYING FOR, OH, AGES HERE ON THE INTERNETS??
Let me quote this out for you. First, Sven Draconian over at the Motown Sports board did some sleuthery and noted that Bondo threw almost exclusively fastballs in the first inning. This was hailed as excellent couch coaching, an example of what a fan can do with nothing but their own brain and a TV to watch the game on. It wasn’t obvious that this was entirely Bondo’s first inning issue, but it was something weird he was doing in the first inning, so everyone assumed that it would be something easy to correct, if only to see if that would have any effect.
Ha ha! Lies and wishful thinking. Life went on, and so did Bondo’s struggles. Mr. Draconian posted that on May 16. On July 29 we were still moaning and whining about this, and when I looked at Bondo again, he was still throwing loads of fastballs in the first inning. Too many. Way too many.
The continued problems prompted his wife to say he changed on the mound, a sentiment echoed by pitching coach Chuck Hernandez.
“She has known me for a long time and she has seen me play every day,” Bonderman said. “When she can see it before you can, it’s something else.”
Bonderman decided to become more aggressive. Instead of trying to nitpick every batter, he went right after hitters with his fastball, slider and changeup. After not using his changeup at all in his last start, Bonderman threw 8-9 changeups on Thursday. The slider, which Bonderman threw harder than he had in recent starts, had more bite.
“I just got to the point where I just said, ‘I am just going to throw it,'” Bonderman said of the slider. “I have to throw it. I am not trying to baby it. It might be a little harder than what I want right now, but I can throw it for strikes and throw it this way and that is what I am trying to do. I was babying the slider, instead of just throwing it and letting it happen.”
So he decided to suck it up and throw his non-fastball pitches, even though he might not feel cozy with them in the first inning. BASICALLY. YOU KNOW. WHAT WE’VE ALL BEEN SAYING.
It’s too bad Bondo doesn’t listen to the internet. At least he listens to his wife (THANK YOU MRS. BONDO).
What alarms me here is that it doesn’t sound like Chuck Hernandez or anyone else on the coaching staff really told him to start mixing up his pitches in the first inning. I’m sure they NOTICED that he was fastball-happy, but they don’t seem to have thought it had anything to do with his struggles. And it surely wasn’t the whole story– there was definitely, at the least, some serious mental gidgetry going on there– but it’s a piece of it, and probably the most easily correctable one.
The fact that they seemed to leave this alone until Bondo’s wife noticed it and bugged him about it worries me. Who knows, though. Maybe Hernandez has been harping on this for months and it’s just that nothing’s come of it until now for secret Bondonian reasons. I hope that’s the case.
But hey, happy thoughts! This was a nice win, even though the asdfl;jasfljR.L.s won, keeping us from making any forward progress in the division. It’s a comfort to see Bondo behaving like the Bondo we all know he truly is, and the offense! Perhaps they were ashamed by their utter lack of ability to step it up yesterday, and tried to make it up today by stepping way the heck up.
Of the starters, only Guillen and Rabelo were hitless. Granderson and Maggs both had 3 hits, and each of them had a home run. This is par for the course where Maggs is concerned, but it’s still new enough to be exciting beyond reason when Granderson does it. We know he’s good, but when he’s THIS good, Tigers fans just start salivating.
It’s great when any hitter in the lineup has a night like Granderson had, but when it’s the leadoff hitter who does it… the guy who has more chances to come up to hit and get on base than anyone else… seriously, have you ever seen an entire roomful of Tigers fans start salivating? Just say things like this.
Posting might be a little abbreviated over the next few days as I move back onto campus. Allegedly my cable and internet are already up and running (I definitely have trust issues where Comcast is concerned, due to the abusive relationship I had with them last year), so I should have full access, but I’ll be pretty busy and may not see all the games or have much time to write. I’m still going to try to get something up after every game, though, so you can rest easy. Or sob in disappointment that the internet doesn’t get a break from Roar of the Tigers. Whichever.