Looking Back At The 2003 Detroit Tigers (17-49)


The Tigers limped to a 6-26 record at home through June 15, 2003. Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2003 Detroit Tigers, the team that quite possibly turned around the fortunes of the franchise, continued the Interleague portion of their schedule by welcoming in a pair of NL West teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies, to their most hated of places: Comerica Park.

After a week off due to technical difficulties, we pick up during the second week of June.

June 9 to 15 (Weekly record 1-5)(Season record 17-49)

The Tigers came home losers of four straight on the road to the Padres and Giants. The week kicked off with another tough extra innings loss to the Dodgers on June 10. They followed with two worthy efforts, but the offense was M.I.A. in a couple of 3-1 and 3-2 losses to round out the three-game series.

Detroit’s former “natural rival,” the Colorado Rockies, arrived for three and the Tigers lost the first game of the series on June 13, 7-2 to extend the latest lengthy losing streak to eight. They would snap that streak in the next game, but lose the rubber match to round out another terrible homestand.

Detroit’s home record fell to an astonishing 6-26.

Painful Game of the Week: June 12-Dodgers at Tigers

Trying to avoid the sweep, Detroit got out to a 1-0 lead on Los Angeles when Bobby Higginson singled in Ramon Santiago. It didn’t take long for the Dodgers to steal the momentum, scoring two in the second. Craig Monroe tied the game in the third and Paul Lo Duca brought in Cesar Izturis for a run in the fifth and that’s where the scoring would end.

Rookie Jeremy Bonderman got the start in that contest, which would turn out to be one of the better outings in his young career. He allowed three runs on 10 hits over seven innings. For a guy who had an ERA in the mid-fives, it was a pretty good outing.

Final: Los Angeles 3, Detroit 2

(Lousy) Player of the Week: Jeremy Bonderman

Jeremy Bonderman is attempting a comeback with the Seattle Mariners. Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Bonderman has the distinct honor of being the first player that we’ve profiled in this series that is still an active Major League player. Though he was out of the game for a couple years, Bonderman decided to give it a second chance with the Seattle Mariners in 2013. He considered an off-season offer from the Tigers, before deciding to go with Seattle, the team closest to his home.

In his first start with Seattle on June 2, he allowed seven earned runs in less than five innings, but in his next two starts, he has been great, allowing just one run over 14 innings, picking up a win against the New York Yankees on June 7.

Jeremy came to the Tigers in 2002 as part of the three-team trade which sent Jeff Weaver to the Yankees. He made the Opening Day roster in 2003 and started the second game of the season against the Minnesota Twins. The 20-year old didn’t fare well, being drilled with six runs on nine hits.

He would record his first major league victory against Oakland, the team who drafted him, on April 23. The game was notable because it stopped an eight-game skid and notched Detroit’s first road win of the season. With Mike Maroth already clinching 20 losses (the first pitcher to do that in 23 years), the Tigers did not want the same thing to happen to Bonderman, especially being a 20-year old rookie. So they used him sparingly the last few weeks of the season and he finished 6-19 with a 5.56 ERA.

Bonderman’s best season came in 2006. In Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Comerica Park, he was perfect through five innings. He was the winning pitcher in that game, which clinched the first postseason series victory for the Tigers in 22 years. He took that playoff momentum into 2007, winning eight straight games from May 8 to June 20 (after five straight no-decisions).

He dropped off significantly after the All-Star break, notching only three more wins, finishing 11-9 with a bloated ERA over five. Beginning in 2008, a series of injuries limited Bonderman to just 20 appearances over two seasons. He went 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA in 2010, his final year in Detroit.