Jeremy Bonderman hasn’t lost since the second week of last September. If he can get his first-inning problems under control, opposing hitters may really be in trouble.
The 24-year-old right-hander is unbeaten this season - with the wins all coming in his last five starts - despite struggling mightily in the first inning. Bonderman has compiled a 12.60 ERA in the opening frame, with a .388 opponent batting average and four home runs allowed. In all other innings, he has a 1.61 ERA, a .197 opponent batting average and has yielded only one homer.
After giving up a first-inning, two-run homer to Cleveland Indians catcher Victor Martinez on Sunday, Bonderman held the next 19 batters he faced hitless. He finished with two runs and four hits allowed over 6 2-3 innings of Detroit’s 9-2 victory.
“I’ve been doing better (in the first), but I made a mistake today,” he said.
Bonderman, who has not lost since last Sept. 10, has won his last eight regular-season decisions dating to last season. He is trying to become the first Detroit (34-26) starter to win nine decisions in a row since David Wells did it in 1995.
His only career start against the Mets (36-23) was a 6-1 loss on June 20, 2004, when he gave up four runs in five innings.
He’ll face a New York lineup which continues to struggle despite ending its four-game losing streak with a 3-0 victory in Friday night’s series opener. The Mets, who remain without starting outfielders Moises Alou and Shawn Green, have scored three runs or fewer in five consecutive games and seven of the last nine.
David Wright and Carlos Delgado had solo homers Friday for New York, and Jorge Sosa scattered four hits over eight innings to earn the win. Delgado, who also homered in Thursday’s loss to Philadelphia, has gone deep seven times in his last 12 games after doing so just three times in his first 44 contests of 2007.
“This was a big game for us to win,” said Mets closer Billy Wagner, who pitched a perfect ninth for his 14th save in 15 opportunities.
Wagner bounced back from blowing his lone save Thursday in a 6-3, 10-inning loss to the Phillies.
Left-hander Oliver Perez (6-4, 2.80) seeks to continue his remarkable resurgence when he takes the mound for New York. Perez, who went 3-13 with a 6.55 ERA in 22 starts for the Mets and Pirates last season, has lasted at least seven innings while allowing three runs or fewer in each of his last five outings.
Perez had his personal three-game winning streak snapped Sunday against Arizona despite another strong performance. He limited the Diamondbacks to three runs and four hits over seven innings, but got outpitched by Doug Davis in a 4-1 loss.
He has never faced the Tigers.
Friday night’s game marked the first shutout loss of the season for the Tigers, who had scored 54 runs and batted .356 in their first six games of June before being held to four hits in the series opener.