Hens pitcher Jeremy Bonderman delivers a pitch against Buffalo in the eighth inning. He has five scoreless innings for the Hens.
Most people will view Jeremy Bonderman’s performance for the Mud Hens Friday as one inning of work.
But Bonderman views his scoreless inning of relief in the Hens’ 4-2 loss to Buffalo at Fifth Third Field as one step closer to returning to the major leagues.
Bonderman retired all three Bisons batters he faced in the eighth inning, giving him his fifth scoreless relief inning since joining the Mud Hens after the All-Star break.
Bonderman looks to return to the majors with the Tigers, the team he pitched with for eight seasons.
“It’s home — that’s the best way to put it,” Bonderman said of Detroit. “I feel comfortable here. I know a lot of the people here.
“I’m just trying to have good, quality innings here. I’m just trying to get back to the big leagues, so whatever I have to do to do that, I’ll do that.”
Bonderman won 67 games for the Tigers from 2003-10, then didn’t pitch the last two seasons. He began this year with Seattle’s Triple-A team in Tacoma, making 11 starts and going 2-4 with a 4.52 ERA.
He was promoted to Seattle and made seven starts with the Mariners before he was designated for assignment, then signed with Detroit just before the break.
Bonderman, used mostly as a starter this season, said the decision to move to the bullpen was his choice.
“They wanted me to start, but I feel the best opportunity for me to get back to the big leagues is in the bullpen,” he said. “They were all for that, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”
The 30-year-old right-hander has allowed just one hit in his first five innings with Toledo and has struck out three without walking a batter.
“He has had good command, and I think there’s good life on his slider,” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said of Bonderman.
“For us, it’s more about how his body is going to react to this role, something he hasn’t done before.
“We may use him again [today] to see how he responds to that. I think the stuff is there, and that’s good.”
Bonderman’s performance was a bright spot in the Hens’ return to Toledo after playing a 20-inning game at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. Nevin said the late night, not to mention the bus ride that saw his team return to the Glass City at 9 a.m. Friday, didn’t play as much of a role in the loss as did the pitching of Buffalo starter Chien-Ming Wang.
“For a team to get a pitcher who has pitched well all season and beat him three times is hard,” Nevin said of Wang, who already has pitched in two losses to Toledo.
“I thought we took some good at-bats against him, but we just didn’t get a big hit.”
Toledo didn’t get a baserunner until Danny Worth walked in the fifth. Their first hit came on a single by Mike Cervenak in the fifth. And their two runs came in the sixth when Avisail Garcia doubled home Gustavo Nunez, then came home on a single by Nick Castellanos.
Meanwhile Hens starter Ramon Garcia gave a bullpen that needed a rest a chance to do just that. He covered seven innings and struggled with only one Bisons hitter: Mauro Gomez, who doubled in a run in the first inning and hammered a three-run homer in the third.
“It was one [bad] pitch, really,” Nevin said of Ramon Garcia’s start. “It seems that every time we need something like that out of him, he comes up big for us.
“He really could have covered another inning, but Jeremy needed to pitch. … For him to give us that was tremendous.”
NOTES: After the game the Mud Hens made two roster moves. Ramon Garcia was sent to Double-A Erie to make room for Shawn Hill, who will start for Toledo today. And reliever Jess Todd was placed on the disabled list with shoulder tendonitis. … Before the game the Hens activated pitcher Jair Jurrjens and placed reliever Jose Valverde on the temporary inactive list. Valverde will be activated for today’s game. … Friday’s crowd of 10,800 was the Mud Hens 17th sellout this season and the 344th full house in Fifth Third Field history.