Bonderman set for battle with Mariners
Detroit (52-35) at Seattle (50-36), Friday, 10:05 p.m. ET
It's not crunch time yet. There aren't any must-win games in July, but that doesn't mean there is any less intensity as the second half unfolds.
With the American League Central so close and competitive this season between Detroit and Cleveland -- and perhaps Minnesota -- the marathon can turn into a sprint over the final three months.
"You have to stay consistent. I don't think you over-emphasize anything," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said as his team began the second half Thursday with a tough 3-2 loss to Seattle. "I don't think you do anything different. That sends the wrong message if all of a sudden you're out of character."
The Tigers stayed in the same character they displayed in the first half with good enough starting pitching and plenty of hits, 11, on Thursday.
"We just didn't get some big ones when we needed to," added Leyland, whose team maintains a half-game lead over the Indians. "But I thought we played excellent baseball.''
The Tigers have the misfortune of beginning the second half against a hot team. Seattle has won 15 of its last 19 games.
The series continues Friday with righty Jeremy Bonderman facing Mariners lefty Jarrod Washburn.Pitching matchup
DET: RHP Jeremy Bonderman (9-1, 3.48 ERA)
The 24-year-old right-hander demonstrated his growth as a pitcher in his last outing. He gave up a first-inning two-run home run to Boston then held the Red Sox scoreless for the next seven innings in the team's 3-2 victory. SEA: LHP Jarrod Washburn (8-6, 3.72 ERA)
Washburn has won his past three decisions, including a 4-0 victory July 4 over Oakland. He went eight innings, allowing just five hits. Player to watch
Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki are both hitting .381 (8-for-21) off Bonderman. Ben Broussard has three home runs and 12 RBIs off him. Tickets
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Saturday: Tigers (Kenny Rogers, 3-0, 1.04) at Mariners (Miguel Batista, 8-7, 4.54), 10:05 p.m. ET
Sunday: Tigers (Justin Verlander, 10-3, 3.14) at Mariners (Jeff Weaver, 2-6, 6.34), 4:05 p.m. ET
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.