They got that chance Wednesday night, and the matchup turned out just the way they hoped—a well-pitched game.
“It was great, because we’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” Harden said.
Bonderman said that he was able to enjoy the night despite the loss.
“It was fun to go out there and compete equally with him,” he said. “Obviously, I would have liked to win the game, but I feel good that I was able to give my team a chance to win.”
Harden (2-2) won his second start in a row, giving up seven hits and striking out eight in helping the A’s to their season-high third straight win.
“Obviously, that’s a great game by Harden,” said Oakland manager Ken Macha. “They got the leadoff man on in four of the first five innings, but he only gave up one run, so you could see that he was pitching his way out of trouble.”
Arthur Rhodes pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save and first appearance since last Friday. He had been bothered by tendinitis in his non-pitching shoulder.
“He was throwing strikes, and they were nasty strikes,” Macha said. “That was good to see.”
Bonderman (3-2) lost for the first time in three tries against his former team. He allowed two runs on four hits and five walks in seven innings.
Tigers catcher Brandon Inge, who struck out twice against Harden, said the two friends are very similar on the mound.
“I told Bondo during the game that he and Harden are a lot alike,” Inge said. “The thing with Harden is that his split-finger is unbelievable; it’s borderline Roger Clemens-quality.”
Oakland only had one runner in scoring position in the first four innings, but took the lead in the fifth on Adam Melhuse’s leadoff homer.
Detroit tied it in the bottom half. Omar Infante walked, took second on Alex Sanchez’s bunt single and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. He scored when Ivan Rodriguez’s single went off second baseman Mark McLemore’s glove.
The Tigers missed several good early scoring chances. In the first inning, the first three batters reached base, but Sanchez was caught stealing and Harden escaped.
In the third, Detroit had runners on the corners with one out, but Harden struck out Rodriguez and Rondell White flied out.
“That at-bat by Rodriguez was huge,” Macha said. “He started him with a fastball, then a slider, then struck him out with a tremendous split.”
Harden pitched his final two innings exclusively from the stretch position, and only allowed one single.
“I didn’t have my best command tonight, and that’s something we have tried in the minors,” he said. “When I’m on, pitching from the warmup is best, butwhen I don’t have great feel, it always helps to go to the stretch.”
The game was completed in 2 hours, 26 minutes—2:12 shorter than Tuesday night’s 5-4, 15-inning victory by Oakland. … Tigers 1B Carlos Pena robbed Scott Hatteberg of a probable two-run double in the sixth when he made a diving catch of a line drive. … During the game, the A’s traded 2B Frank Menechino to Toronto for future considerations. Menechino, optioned to Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday, hit .091 in 33 at-bats with the A’s this season. … Harden threw balls on his first 11 pitches to Infante, walking him twice and going 3-0 before getting him to pop out in his third at-bat. … Melhuse has three RBIs this season, all on solo homers. … 2B Fernando Vina (hamstring) was a late scratch, and was placed on the 15-day DL after the game. To replace him, the Tigers purchased the contract of INF Jason Smith from Triple-A Toledo. They made room for Smith on the 40-man roster by moving RHP Lino Urdaneta(elbow) from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day list.