The Detroit Tigers right-hander gets a chance to show the Red Sox he should be an All-Star when the teams continue their three-game series Saturday at Comerica Park.
Bonderman (9-1, 3.58 ERA) has been outstanding for the Tigers (50-34) all season, lasting at least five innings in all 15 of his starts and winning nine of his last 10 outings. On Sunday against Minnesota, he limited the Twins to six hits and one walk in eight innings of a 1-0 victory, striking out seven.
Although Bonderman went 14-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 2006, the 24-year-old appears to be maturing even more this year.
“He’s blessed with a great arm, and he’s a competin’ fool,” Detroit and AL All-Star team manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s making progress. It’s not a difference between day and night with him, it’s a gradual thing, but he’s really good.
“He’s a treat because you write him in and he’s a horse. He wants the ball. He has no fear of anything. He’s a manager’s dream.”
After leading in the opening hours of fan voting for the final All-Star spot, though, Bonderman lost out to Boston reliever Hideki Okajima. Bonderman will now keep his plans to spend the All-Star break with his family in his native Washington state, so missing out on the Midsummer Classic doesn’t seem to bother the quiet right-hander.
“I’m not worried about that stuff,” Bonderman said of the balloting.
Bonderman lost his first four career decisions against Boston, but has gone 3-0 versus the Red Sox (53-32) since the start of the 2005 season to make him 3-4 with a 4.98 lifetime ERA in eight starts.
He’ll be trying to lead the Tigers to their fourth straight victory, after they cruised to a 9-2 win in Friday night’s series opener. Marcus Thames hit a grand slam and Curtis Granderson added a solo home run in a five-run fifth inning to break open the game.
Detroit moved into a virtual tie for the AL Central lead with Cleveland, which lost 8-6 to Toronto. The Tigers have scored 27 runs during their three-game winning streak.
Despite having their four-game win streak snapped, the Red Sox remain a comfortable 11 games in front of the Blue Jays and New York Yankees atop the AL East. They also have the Tigers’ respect.
“We are the two best teams, maybe with Anaheim,” said Detroit shortstop Carlos Guillen, who singled and scored Friday.
Gabbard took a shutout into the fifth inning against Texas on Monday. The left-hander ended up allowing three runs, three hits and four walks over 5 2-3 innings - good enough to get credit for a 7-3 victory. The outing was the longest of Gabbard’s three major league starts this season, one of which came in May.
Gabbard has never faced the Tigers.
Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis sat out Friday’s contest - the third game in the last four he’s missed due to a strained hamstring. However, Boston manager Terry Francona is not calling the injury serious.
“We’re just trying to protect Youk,” Francona said.