The right-hander won and started for the first time at home in nearly two years, bouncing back from surgery that broke up a blood clot in his throwing shoulder.
“It was fun to just get back on the mound, compete and be who I am and not worry about my arm hurting,” he said. “It’s been a long journey back, but I’m hoping I got 35 more starts in and hopefully we can do something special.”
Bonderman (1-0) retired the first 11 he faced, then allowed a run on a wild pitch, single and two walks to win for the first time since his last Comerica Park start on May 22, 2008.
He started on opening day for the Tigers in 2005 at the age of 22, the youngest pitcher to earn the honor since Dwight Gooden two decades earlier, and helped them reach the World Series the next season for the first time since 1984.
A circulation problem in his shoulder in 2008 stunted his career.
The Tigers, though, publicly counted on him being a starter this year and he rewarded their faith with a strong spring and first start.
“We were tickled to death, obviously,” manager Jim Leyland said.
Bonderman needed some help to get the win.
Brad Thomas(notes) gave up a run as he matched a career high by pitching two innings, Fu-Te Ni(notes) retired two and Ryan Perry(notes) took the ball for the final 1 1-3 innings to pick up his first career save.
“It was a dream come true for me to come in the ninth for a save,” the 23-year-old Perry said.
The Tigers have won three straight and four of five.
He threw 38 pitches—just half for strikes—in the first inning before recovering well enough for stay in the game for 101 pitches over five innings.
“It didn’t feel like anything was wrong mechanically, I just couldn’t throw strikes,” Talbot said. “Nothing felt different in the last two innings, but the pitches were there.”
Bonderman struck out the top two hitters in Cleveland’s lineup—Asdrubal Cabrera(notes) and Grady Sizemore(notes)—to open the fourth, inspiring “Let’s go Bon-do!” chants from fans in the stands. Then, he walked Shin-Soo Choo(notes) on a full-count pitch. Choo advanced to third on a single and scored on a wild pitch.
Hafner’s RBI single in the sixth pulled the Indians within two runs and they blew a chance to at least cut into the deficit two innings later. Ni hit two straight batters in the eighth, then struck out Hafner and Perry got Jhonny Peralta(notes) out swinging.
“You can’t win a lot of games by scoring two,” manager Manny Acta said. “But we’re battling against some good pitching.”
NOTES: Bonderman was 0-1 with a 8.71 ERA in eight games last season, including only one start on June 8. … Talbot, acquired in the offseason from Tampa Bay for C Kelly Shoppach(notes), made his previous appearance in the majors for the Rays at Detroit on Sept. 28, 2008, and gave up five runs in 2 1-3 innings. He made the second start of his career in the majors. … Ordonez was 1 for 3— dropping his batting average to .476—after opening the season with four multihit games in a row. … Cabrera has a hit in each of Cleveland’s five games. … Sizemore struck out three times for the first time in one year and a day. … Detroit’s top draft pick last year, RHP Jacob Turner, threw five scoreless innings a year out of high school in his professional debut Friday for Class-A West Michigan. … Leyland rested closer Jose Valverde(notes) along with relievers Joel Zumaya(notes) and Phil Coke(notes).