Jeremy Bonderman looks to win a career-best fourth straight start and the Detroit Tigers look to continue their dominance within the division when they open a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field on Monday.
Bonderman (10-4, 3.53 ERA) is 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA in nine starts since losing to the New York Yankees on May 29. In three wins this month, the right-hander has allowed only seven runs and 15 hits in 21 2-3 innings.
“When I get in my car and go to work, and I know Jeremy Bonderman’s pitching, I feel real comfortable,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, Bonderman allowed only two runs and four hits through 7 1-3 innings of the Tigers’ 5-2 victory.
“I have to give some credit to Bonderman,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “This kid threw the ball outstanding. He was unbelievable. (We hit a) couple of balls hit good for home runs, and after that he settled down.”
Bonderman, though, has struggled against Cleveland going 5-8 with a 6.17 ERA in 16 appearances, including 15 starts. He defeated the Indians on May 13, allowing three hits with three walks and eight strikeouts over eight innings of a 3-0 victory.
Detroit (66-32) owns the best record in baseball with their wins split evenly at home and on the road, and is 28-12 against AL Central foes.
The Tigers lead the season series with the Indians 7-3, and swept a three-game series in Cleveland from May 12-14.
Detroit, which is playing its first road series after the All-Star break, won for the fourth time in five games after beating Oakland 8-4 on Sunday. Carlos Guillen came within a homer of hitting for the cycle and Nate Robertson pitched seven strong innings in the win.
“I tried to get one, but I got a walk,” Guillen said. “I felt pretty good today. I had a nice at-bat every time I went up there.”
“We don’t have any signs of a concussion,” trainer Kevin Rand said. “Obviously, that’s a good thing. He’s got some swelling on the side of his face, but hopefully he may be ready (Monday).”
Polanco is fourth on the team with a .295 average.
Cleveland struck out 17 times in a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday setting a team record for a nine-inning game, one more than the Indians had June 4, 2004, at St. Louis.
The Indians, who lost two of three games in the series, failed to get at least 10 hits for the first time in six games. They also are 4-11 since July 4.
Center fielder Grady Sizemore went 1-for-3 and is hitting .500 (14-for-28) with five RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.
Cliff Lee (9-7, 4.86 ERA) will start for the Indians looking to reach double digits in wins for the third straight season. Lee is 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA in three starts after winning his previous four.
The left-hander lost in his last outing, giving up five runs and seven hits in five innings as the Indians lost 7-5 to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.
Lee has dropped both of his starts against Detroit this season. He surrendered five runs and a season-high 11 hits in seven innings in a 5-4 defeat on May 12.
Lee is 3-3 with a 4.72 ERA in 10 starts against Detroit.