10/25/06 11:10 PM ET
Bonderman waits out rest, rain for start
Right-hander doesn't expect delays to affect him in Game 4
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
"We were all hoping to get [the game] in," Bonderman said. "They waited as long as they could, [but] didn't want to see anybody getting hurt."
Bonderman didn't warm up and spent the delay with his teammates in the visitors' clubhouse. Tigers manager Jim Leyland kept the team updated.
"We were ready to go," Bonderman said. "All it means is we have to wait another day, it's not that big a deal, you just have to try and stay focused. We'll see what happens, we'll be ready to go tomorrow."
Weather forecasters predict even more rain for Thursday, which means Bonderman's start could be postponed a second time.
"If Mother Nature says we play, we play," Bonderman said. "If not, we won't."
The only time Bonderman faced the St. Louis lineup, the 23-year-old right-hander didn't get the win. But he was borderline dominating in Detroit's win over the Cardinals on June 25.
You would think striking out eight Cardinals in seven innings, including six during the first four, would be quite a confidence boost, but Bonderman doesn't think his success in his one career start against St. Louis will count for much when he faces the Redbirds again in Game 4, which was rescheduled to Thursday night at 8 ET.
The Tigers trail, 2-1, in the best-of-seven Series.
Bonderman rang up all of the Cardinals big guns at least once in that game, getting Albert Pujols on a fastball, Scott Rolen twice on sinkers and Jim Edmonds on a fastball. At one point, Bonderman set down seven straight Cardinals batters in order.
"That was [at Comerica Park] and it was a while back, this is a completely different situation," Bonderman said. "I don't think it applies at all, to be honest with you. It's a long time ago, I can't really remember too much of it. I know what he [Pujols] does. I know the impact he can have on a game. If I have a base open, I'm not going to be afraid to walk him. But if the situation calls for it, I will pitch to him and I won't be scared to do it."
Bonderman will need that good movement on his fastball again if he is going to repeat his June success. Another key will be how well he holds down the top of the Cardinals order, particularly shortstop David Eckstein.
"I know their main guys, and they have got some guys that are up front with Eckstein and whoever they bat second," Bonderman said. "Those are two guys you've really got to concentrate on to try to avoid having people on base with Pujols coming up behind them. You've got Edmonds and Rolen, Juan Encarnacion, you've got some good hitters.
"I don't really try to overanalyze these guys, because they're all human. They all make outs. You've just got to go out and attack them, try to put them on the defense."
Bonderman averaged 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings, the third-highest single-season mark in franchise history. He racked up 202 strikeouts, the first Tiger since Jack Morris (208 in 1987) to top 200 strikeouts in a season. Bonderman did it with an outstanding fastball and an aggressive approach to pitching.
"The way I pitch, I'm going to go inside, I'm going to throw breaking balls, elevate it," Bonderman said. "I'm going to do what I can to keep him [Pujols] off balance and not let him sit with one."
Bonderman hasn't pitched since he started Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against Oakland on Oct. 14. The 12-day layoff is more than twice as long as any he's had between starts this season, which raises the question as to whether it will be a factor.
Bonderman isn't worried about it, and neither is Leyland.
"I have all the confidence in the world in our staff, they brought us to the World Series," Leyland said. "So if I'm worried about that now, I've got problems. So I'm not worried about it. I am concerned a little bit, as I said, because I just don't think you know quite what to expect when they have had a long layoff."
For Bonderman, there will be one other difference this time against the Cardinals. He'll get to bat and perhaps end his 0-for-19 career hitless streak.
"I wouldn't say I've come close to a hit," Bonderman said.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.