Tigers 6, Mariners 3
SEATTLE (AP)—When Jeremy Bonderman is on the mound, veteran Detroit manager Jim Leyland knows he can feel confident.
An early grand slam from slugger Gary Sheffield certainly boosts confidence as well.
Sheffield put aside his controversial comments about Joe Torre, Barry Bonds and the New York Yankees, and provided Bonderman all the offense he needed as the Tigers beat the Seattle Mariners 6-3 on Friday night.
“I think Bonderman is one of those guys to be honest with you, that when he pitches the guys feel good,” Leyland said. “When Kenny Rogers pitches, they feel good. When Justin Verlander pitches, they feel good. When your players feel good behind a guy, I think that’s a big lift.”
Certainly, Sheffield was a huge lift on Friday.
It was a long day for Sheffield, who fielded questions before the game about his comments to HBO’s Real Sports regarding the treatment of black and white players by Torre in the Yankees’ clubhouse and his past relationship with Bonds.
He then went out and hit the 12th grand slam of his career and 22nd homer this season, staking Bonderman to an early lead and overshadowing a solid performance from the right-hander.
That was fine by Bonderman, who became the 12th pitcher in the American League to reach double-figures in wins.
“(Sheffield) has been incredible for us,” Bonderman said. “His presence in the lineup, his ability to get on base and give the guys behind him the opportunity to drive in runs, he has definitely helped this lineup.”
Bonderman (10-1), who grew up about 4 1/2 hours southeast of Seattle, stymied the team he watched as a kid. Bonderman threw just 71 pitches through six innings, and didn’t face his first 3-ball count until the seventh.
He pitched seven innings, struck out five, and allowed just six hits, joining teammate Justin Verlander with 10 wins.
“Bonderman was good. He’s not 10-1 by mistake,” Seattle manager John McLaren said.
In the interview with HBO, Sheffield says the black players on the Yankees’ roster would be “called out” in the clubhouse by Torre. Sheffield also denied he ever took steroids, but admitted taking the “clear” and the “cream”—two designer steroids created by BALCO. Sheffield said he didn’t know they were steroids, said he trusted and felt himself being controlled by Bonds. But, Sheffield claimed, “if I took what Barry Bonds took, why don’t I look like him?”
He looked like Bonds—in terms of hitting homers—in the third inning.
“I’m a professional when I step on the field,” Sheffield said. “I put all distractions, or what people call distractions or whatever they want to call it, behind.”
Sheffield took a close 1-2 pitch that home plate umpire Brian Runge said was a little low and outside. Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn—who shook his head after the game when asked about the 1-2 pitch and said “he called it a ball”— then hung a breaking ball over the middle of the plate, and Sheffield hit into the Tigers’ bullpen in left field.
It was Detroit’s sixth grand slam this season, tied for the league lead with Milwaukee.
“He is one of the greatest hitters ever in my opinion,” Washburn said. “You make a mistake to a guy like that and he will hurt you.”
Washburn (8-7) allowed just three earned runs in his last three starts and was coming off an outstanding performance against Kansas City where he shut out the Royals for eight innings.
While Washburn struck out a season-high seven, he also allowed seven hits and walked three, losing for the first time since June 17 against Houston.
“He doesn’t have many holes, so there aren’t too many places to go on him,” Washburn said.
Ichiro Suzuki, who earlier in the day agreed to a $90 million, five-year extension with Seattle, was 1-for-4.
Seattle’s nine-game home winning streak was snapped. It was the Mariners longest home streak since a club-record 11-game streak in 2001. … Detroit traded RHP Roman Colon, recently charged in a locker room scuffle with a Triple-A teammate, to Kansas City for a player to be named. … Detroit 2B Omar Infante went 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last 19 at-bats.