Martinez adjusted quickly.
After striking out with a runner on third in the first inning, Martinez homered for the third straight game and drove in three runs to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 6-3 victory Friday night.
“He had great stuff—good life on his fastball and a good breaking ball,” said the 40-year-old Martinez, who is twice as old as Bonderman. “I don’t think I’m a home run hitter, but I knew I was going to have to be more aggressive against him, and it worked.”
John Olerud scored twice for the AL West-leading Mariners, who have won nine of 13. The Tigers dropped 21 games below .500 at 9-30.
Gil Meche (5-2) won for the fourth time in five starts, allowing three runs on six hits in six-plus innings. He walked four and struck out four.
“It seemed like I put the leadoff hitter on in every inning, but I was able to struggle through it,” Meche said. “The guys gave me a lead and I was able to get to the seventh inning and help us get the win.”
Bonderman (2-6) gave up four runs on five hits and a career-high five walks over five-plus innings in his eighth career start. He struck out a career-high seven.
“I had some good stuff, but I walked four or five guys and that killed me,” said Bonderman, who grew up in Washington state. “It wasn’t a big deal pitching against the Mariners. I was just trying to do my job.”
Detroit led 2-1 after five, but Bret Boone led off the sixth with a walk and scored on Martinez’s homer over the shortened fence in left field.
“That was the game—one pitch,” Bonderman said. “I know he’s a great hitter, and I thought my best chance was my slider. I hung it, and he did what good hitters do.”
Martinez instantly became a fan of the new fence, which is 25 feet in front of the old one.
“Center field still feels like it is a mile out there, but left field is more fair now,” he said. “That ball I hit would have been an out last year— I hit two in that same spot last year.”
Seattle added a run later in the inning on two walks and Randy Winn’s RBI single.
Until then, Bonderman’s first inning was the highlight of the game.
“That was huge, given the problems we have had in the first inning,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “You could tell by the swings that they weren’t seeing the ball very well. But Edgar and Bret are great hitters, and they made adjustments.”
Seattle manager Bob Melvin was equally impressed.
“When we have Ichiro on third and those guys coming up, we expect to get him in,” he said. “That’s three tough guys that the kid struck out.”
Detroit took the lead in the second when Dmitri Young singled, went to third on Carlos Pena’s double and scored when Craig Monroe’s dribbler down the third-base line stayed fair. After a walk to Eric Munson, Brandon Inge’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0.
“That could have been a huge inning for them, but I was able to contain the damage,” Meche said. “That was big, because their guy was shutting us down at that point, and I didn’t want to let the game get away.”
Seattle got on the board in the third when McLemore tripled off the right-center scoreboard and came home on Boone’s infield single off Bonderman’s glove.
The Tigers put runners on the corners in the sixth, but Meche got Inge to ground out, ending the threat.
Seattle added a run in the ninth on Martinez’s RBI single.
Opponents were successful on 13 straight stolen-base attempts against Inge before the catcher threw out Suzuki at third in the third. … Suzuki’s third-inning double was the 500th hit of his career. … Martinez’s homer was only the second by a visiting player over the new fence in left, and the first since Minnesota’s Dustan Mohr did it on opening day. The Tigers have hit five. … Tigers pitchers struck out a season-high 11 batters. … Seattle’s Jeff Cirillo was ejected by plate umpire Larry Vanover for arguing a called thirdstrike in the sixth.