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Archive for Thursday, May 25, 2006

Leyland’s pep talk sparks Tigers hurler

Bonderman tosses seven strong innings, sends Royals to 12th straight defeat

May 25, 2006

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— Detroit manager Jim Leyland gave his own version of a commencement speech to Jeremy Bonderman on Wednesday night.

After Matt Stairs slugged a three-run homer in the sixth inning, Leyland told the 23-year-old Bonderman it was "time to graduate."

And apparently he did. Bonderman settled down and did not allow another run Wednesday night while the Tigers, with two home runs from Omar Infante, beat Kansas City, 6-3, to hand the Royals their 12th straight loss.

Leyland wanted to make sure Bonderman (5-3) didn't get flustered after allowing Stairs' homer.

"I told him it's time to graduate and really become the major-league pitcher you can be," Leyland said. "This is a perfect time for you to turn the page, get your concentration on the next hitter and put that in the memory bank somewhere. This is where you either graduate or you don't."

Bonderman, who went seven innings and gave up three runs and 10 hits, was not ready to say he aced the test.

"He said, 'You've got to step up,"' Bonderman recalled. "You can't feel sorry for yourself for that home run. I was able to make some pitches, and the guys played some defense."

Brandon Inge also homered, and Ivan Rodriguez had three hits for the Tigers, who lead the majors with a 32-14 record and the AL with 39 road homers. Detroit has won 12 of its last 13 and has a major league-best 19 road victories.

The hapless Royals dropped to 10-34 and are beginning to draw comparisons with the 2003 Detroit team that lost an AL-record 119 games and the 1962 New York Mets whose 120 losses set the modern futility record.

In their 12-game skid, their second double-digit losing streak already this year, the Royals have been outscored 87-41.

"We had some opportunities offensively," manager Buddy Bell said.

In three starts this year against Kansas City, Bonderman is 3-0 with a 1.66 earned-run average.

"He has always looked impressive to us," Bell said.

The Tigers have outscored the Royals 46-13 and outhomered them 18-7 in taking the first seven games against them this season.

After wrapping up the four-game Detroit series today, the Royals begin a 10-game trip Friday night with three in Yankee Stadium, where they have lost 14 in a row. They are 2-20 on the road this season.

Bonderman is 4-0 in six road starts.

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