Yanks Jump All Over Bonderman, Umpire Becomes the Story

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Detroit 5, New York 9 (box)

Jeremy Bonderman wasted very little time in showing us that he, not Justin Verlander, is still the king of terrible first innings. A night after Verlander took 35 pitches to allow two runs in the first, Bonderman gave up three to New York, setting the tone for a second straight Tigers loss.

Bonderman took it upon himself to seek retribution for Brett Gardner‘s take-out slide that sent Carlos Guillen to the disabled list by hitting Gardner in the leg with the first pitch of the game. Immediately, home plate umpire Eric Cooper issued warnings to both teams. We’ll get back to that.

One batter later, Mark Teixeira sent a Bonderman offering into the stands for a 2-0 Yankee lead. Not to be outdone, Robinson Cano followed Teixeira with a solo homer of his own.

On paper, this was the game the Tigers would have their best chance to break out offensively. Dustin Moseley made the start for New York, but he held the Tigers in check for the most part. Miguel Cabrera launched a solo homer to put the Tigers on the board in the second, then did it again in the fourth, cutting the Yankee lead to 3-2. But Once the Tigers got close, Bonderman gave the Yankees more breathing room.

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A one out walk got the inning going for the Yankees in their half of the fourth, and a triple and a double followed from the next two batters. The Yankees would score a third run when Teixeira’s groundball turned into two errors (one each by Cabrera and Ramon Santiago) allowing Gardner, who had doubled, to score.

Once again the Tigers came right back, this time getting a two run homer by Don Kelly to cut the lead back to 6-4, but once again Bonderman handed a run right back, serving up a home run to Curtis Granderson. The Yankees padded their lead with a two-run seventh, but Detroit had one more chance to get back into the game.

Chad Gaudin started the eighth for the Yankees and drilled Cabrera in the ribs with a fastball. Considering that Cabrera had already homered twice, and that warnings had already been issued by the umpire, Gaudin and Joe Girardi were about to be tossed, right? Nope. Cooper said nothing and Jim Leyland blew his top. For the next two hitters, as Gaudin was busy loading up the bases, Leyland was barking at Cooper. The Tigers managed just one run from their bases loaded, no out situation and Leyland eventually got himself thrown out of the game.

In the bottom of the eighth, Tigers reliever Enrique Gonzalez fired a fastball behind Derek Jeter, but again, no one was thrown out of the game.

One more thing on Bonderman before we get to the umpiring. He allowed six hits in the game last night. All six went for extra bases. Leyland would say after the game how Bonderman had battled, even though he didn’t have his best stuff. That’s just good enough. You cannot take Verlander to task for his poor performance the day before and then give Bonderman a pass the next night. Why? Is it because Bonderman missed two years with injury? Because Verlander is your ace? Bonderman has just as much responsibility on the day he pitches as Verlander does on his day. Neither one put their club in a position to win.

As I watched the same crap unfold with Bonderman that we’ve all seen far too many times before I was comforted only with the thought that Bonderman is a free agent after the season. Then he’ll be gone (I hope) and we won’t have to be reminded again of the one-time phenom who never learned a third pitch and never lived up to the hype.

Back to the beanball war. First of all, nothing about Gardner’s slide on Monday was dirty. No retribution was necessary. I watched the play, as we all did, many times. Gardner did what any runner should do, he tried to break up the double play. He slid hard and he slid late, but it wasn’t a dirty play, it was a baseball play.

That said, IF you wanted to go after Gardner, it should have been done on Tuesday, not Wednesday, but it wasn’t. Cooper then compounded the problem by issuing warnings when really none were necessary, then completely dropped the ball by allowing the Yankees to throw at Cabrera in the eighth, eventually causing Leyland to be tossed. To take it a step further, when the Tigers threw at Jeter as payback for the Cabrera beaning, Cooper let that go as well.

I don’t agree with Cooper on really anything he did here, but when he issued a warning to both benches in the first, he then needs to enforce that warning in the eighth. Otherwise, why was there a warning? I expect that this issue isn’t dead, and frankly I’m hoping for a few fireworks this afternoon when these two teams meet again. A good old-fashioned brawl might do this club some good.

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