The Twins (1-0) hope Bonser can recapture some of that success when he makes his first start of the season Tuesday as Minnesota continues a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.
With veteran Brad Radke now retired and phenom Francisco Liriano out for the season after elbow surgery, the reigning AL Central champions are hoping Bonser can solidify a shaky rotation that includes newcomers Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson.
Bonser was 2-4 with a 5.56 ERA in his first nine starts from May 21-August 12. After that, though, he was 5-2 with a 3.11 ERA also in nine starts from Aug. 18-Sept. 29. He made his only career start against Baltimore (0-1) on Aug. 24, and allowed two runs and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings of an 11-2 win.
Bonser started Game 2 of the AL division series against Oakland, but didn’t get a decision on a 5-2 loss. He lasted six innings, allowing two runs and seven hits.
The right-hander follows an efficient—if unspectacular performance—by reigning AL Cy Young winner Johan Santana on Monday, who yielded four runs and seven hits over six innings of a 7-4 win.
Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter hit back-to-back homers on consecutive pitches in the second inning off starter Erik Bedard. Joe Mauer also singled and scored in a three-run fifth that broke open the game for Minnesota.
Morneau is the reigning AL MVP, and Mauer hit .347 last season to become the first AL catcher to win a batting title.
“We play as a unit here. Everybody just tries to do their thing,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Five of Baltimore’s eight hits went for extra bases, including a sixth-inning solo homer by Miguel Tejada. Bedard gave up six runs and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings
The Orioles will hand the ball on Tuesday to Daniel Cabrera, who was 9-10 with a 4.74 ERA in 26 starts last season. His wins total has dropped in each of his three major league seasons, but he was 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in two starts against Minnesota last year.
In seven career starts against the Twins, the right-hander is 5-1 with a 3.25 ERA - the most wins he’s had against another team.
But Cabrera’s consistency was his biggest problem last season. He allowed career-lows of 130 hits and 82 runs, but he walked an AL-worst 104 batters.
“He usually tells you in the first two innings what kind of game you’re going to be getting and how tough he’s going to be,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo told the team’s official Web site. “He’s getting better all the time.
“We expect him to be an overnight sensation … but I think it’s a process. And he’s getting better at the process. If we can get him off to a good start, I think we’ll be closer.”