The grind to get back felt fulfilling by the end of Friday night.
Bonderman picked up his first major league win since Sept. 8, 2010, and the Mariners beat the Yankees, 4-1, on Friday night at Safeco Field.
Previously, Bonderman’s career had been plagued by injury. He made just 13 starts between 2008-09 because of thoracic outlet compression syndrome in his right chest. Between his time in 2010 with the Detroit Tigers and his debut for the Mariners on June 2, Bonderman went 975 days between Major League starts.
This season, his battle to return began in Tacoma, where he pitched 11 games for the Triple-A Rainiers.
On Friday, his postgame body language was subdued. But, the win for Bonderman after six innings of one-run pitching was at least a night of validation of his stop in the minor leagues and coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2012.
“Feels amazing,” Bonderman said. “It’s been a long time. Getting back on the field and feeling like you can compete and hold your own, feel really good.”
Bonderman was unsteady through the first and early parts of the second. Ball one was a constant. Brett Gardner’s lead-off double to start the game was followed by a four-pitch walk to Robinson Cano. A fielder’s choice and two groundouts were next, producing merely a run for the Yankees.
More balls and baserunners in the second. But, again, Bonderman worked around it. His pitch count was inflated, however, by the end of the second. The veteran had dispatched 50 pitches to obtain six outs.
Then, a shift.
Bonderman (1-1) needed just 17 pitches to conveniently complete the next two innings. He rolled through six innings just allowing the first-inning blemish and three measly hits. After throwing 97 pitches, Bonderman was done for the night with a significant improvement over his debut when he allowed seven earned runs.
“He right himself fairly quickly,” manager Eric Wedge said. “Once he did, we saw the guy we saw in spring training.”
A fourth-inning burst from the Mariners put Bonderman in line for the long-coming victory.
The Mariners did the majority of their offensive work in the inning. Four hits and two walks, all with two outs, stacked up to four runs. Michael Morse led off with a double. Nick Franklin walked, as did Kelly Shoppach. Singles from Brendan Ryan and Jason Bay pushed home the runs.
Tom Wilhelmsen picked up his 15th save with a steady ninth. He hung a curveball to Vernon Wells, who just missed a two-run homer when his searing fly ball to left landed just wide of the foul pole. Wells hit a liner that Kyle Seager snagged to end the game.
Yankees starter Hideki Kuroda had been stingy much of the season. Getting a win off of him on the night they started Bonderman puts the Mariners in a competitive spot for a series win. Joe Saunders, 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA at Safeco Field, will start Saturday against Andy Pettitte. Felix Hernandez throws the finale Sunday again David Phelps (4-3, 4.15).firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @Todd_Dybas