MINNEAPOLIS Jeremy Bonderman stepped onto the mound at Target Field and took a quick look around.
After nearly three years, multiple surgeries on his throwing arm and a premature retirement that led to thoughts of self-doubt and regret, the former Pasco High School standout finally was back in major-league baseball.
He toed the rubber and fired a first-pitch strike to Minnesotas Eduardo Escobar. Moments later, he struck out Escobar swinging. Then Bonderman retired Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham for a 1-2-3 inning.
It would be the best moment of his day.
There would be no happy ending for Bonderman or the Mariners. The sentimental script quickly soured. Bonderman was pounded by the Twins over the next four innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits, and the Mariners were pummeled, 10-0, to wrap up a five-game trip.
It was a lot of fun to walk out there and get back on the field and try to help the team win, Bonderman said. But obviously you have to pitch better than that.
So what went wrong in his return?
I just thought he was up, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. When we saw him this spring, when he missed, he missed down, or he missed in or out. Today he was missing up and over. They hit a couple good pitches and did a nice job. Theyve got some guys heading the right direction swinging the bat, but where he got in trouble was just leaving pitches up and over.
The sure sign that Bondermans pitches were up in the strike zone were the types of hits the Twins were getting. Of the nine hits Bonderman surrendered, seven went for extra bases three doubles, a triple and three homers.
I just made some mistakes and left some balls up, he said. Obviously at this level, you cant do it. It wasnt a very good day.
Moses Lake native Ryan Doumit continued to terrorize the Mariners (24-33), crushing a solo homer to left field to start the second inning. RBI doubles from Brian Dozier and Aaron Hicks pushed the lead to 3-0 later in the second.
Bonderman worked a scoreless third inning, but he gave up another solo homer to start the fourth when Chris Herrmann deposited a ball in the left-field stands. Minnesota added a run after Hicks tripled and Pedro Florimons sacrifice fly made it 5-0.
Willingham clubbed a two-run homer with none out in the fifth before Herrmanns two-out single ended Bondermans day.
My fastball was up at times, Bonderman said. You get beat when your fastball is up. That was the biggest thing. I just need to keep the ball down. My game is ground balls. If you cant keep the ball down, you are going to get hurt.
Bondermans outing was reminiscent of Brandon Maurer, the pitcher he replaced in the starting rotation. The Mariners sent the rookie back to Triple-A Tacoma because of his inconsistency. But Wedge wont ship out Bonderman after just one start.
He just has to go out there and take what he learned from this and make the adjustments and have a good work day, Wedge said. He cant let this one beat him up. Its his first time back in a while, and thats significant, too. Have some good work days, and go out there and just be better next time.
Wedge hopes a few days with pitching coach Carl Willis can clear up some problems.
Weve got a lot to work off of today, Wedge said. Theres plenty of conversations to be had here in the next couple days before he gets back on the mound and throws his side. Youve got more to look at and work off of. Obviously we have the benefit of having seen him all spring and have a pretty good idea of what he needs to do to be successful.
Bondermans replacement, Hector Noesi another possible candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation was unimpressive in 2ª innings, giving up seven hits and three runs.
The Mariners did little offensively against Twins starter Scott Diamond.
They had three of their five hits in a scoreless first inning. It hurt when Michael Saunders led off with a sharp single and promptly was doubled off first on Jason Bays stinging line drive to infielder Florimon.
We came out great in the first inning, Wedge said. We couldnt have done any better than the way we hit the ball in the first. We made the mistake of getting picked off there, but came out swinging the bats well and didnt have anything to show for it. Then (Diamond) settled in. I feel like we had a lot of hard outs today but were never able to get anything going.
Diamond pitched six innings, gave up four hits and struck out three with one walk.
I think as a whole, guys hit the ball pretty hard today, Raul Ibañez said. A lot of guys barreled up some balls, and there were some good at-bats in there, but he kept the ball out of the middle of the plate.
The Mariners return to Seattle to start 10-day, 10-game homestand Monday. Bonderman would be scheduled to pitch Friday night against the New York Yankees.
Bonderman, 30, looks forward to the next start in his comeback because he didnt allow himself to believe there would be a first start.
I never knew if Id ever get back, he said. I just wanted to work hard and leave it all out there so I didnt have anything to be disappointed in, or to look back and say, I couldve done this, or I couldve done that. I just appreciated being out on that field again. Its not something you can take for granted. You just have to find a way to be better.