Inside Pitch: Bonderman Leads to 4-in-a-Row

The Tigers have won four straight and ten of their last 12, and much of that can be attributed to great starting pitching. Monday night against the Royals was no different, as Jeremy Bonderman shut down Kansas City en route to his third victory of the year.

Manager Jim Leyland sees one big difference between managing in the American League and working in the National League.

"In the National League," he said, "a pitcher catches a few breaks in the lineup now and then (at the bottom of a lineup). You're not grinding out quite as hard, and it doesn't take such a toll on you the second half of the season over there like it potentially does here.

"Your effort over here is so much different than it is (in the National League). The mental stress and strain is a big factor. You never get a break at the bottom of the lineup, like facing the pitcher."

So what Leyland has taken to doing is getting his starting pitchers out of the game as soon as he feels it is safe to do so.

For instance, he removed Kenny Rogers after eight innings Sunday even though the veteran was working on a shutout. Leyland asked Rogers, who had thrown fewer than 90 pitches, how he felt about finishing the game, and the starter said it made no difference.

So Leyland brought in Todd Jones just to give his closer some work to stay sharp.

Leyland removed Jeremy Bonderman with a 3-0 lead Monday after eight innings to bring on Jones to nail it down. Bonderman had thrown fewer than 100 pitches.

Jones struggled this time, giving up four hits and two runs before earning his fourth save.

Leyland believes pulling his starters early, which he feels is viable since his bullpen hasn't given up a lead yet this season, will pay off over the course of the season in stronger, more rested starters.

REPLAY: Jeremy Bonderman blanked Kansas City for eight innings Monday night and got home run support from Magglio Ordonez and Craig Monroe in Detroit's 3-2 victory over the Royals.

Todd Jones gave up four hits and two runs in the ninth but still managed to close out the game for his fourth save.

Detroit won its fourth in a row and 10th in 12 games.

Bonderman gave up just four hits and struck out nine in raising his record to 3-2.

Ordonez hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, and Monroe followed a leadoff single by Carlos Guillen in the seventh with a two-out home run, his sixth of the season.

--RHP Jeremy Bonderman showed a sharp slider Monday night in shutting out Kansas City for eight innings.

Bonderman struck out a season-high nine batters, mostly utilizing a slider that started on the outside of the plate and broke out of the strike zone.

He gave up four hits and didn't walk a batter.

--RHP Todd Jones struggled Monday night but still earned his fourth save in four tries for Detroit.

Jones entered in the ninth inning, protecting a 3-0 lead for RHP Jeremy Bonderman, and gave up a triple to start the inning. He also gave up three singles while getting two outs, but he closed the inning and the game with a routine groundout to second.

Jones had pitched an inning Sunday after not pitching since April 25 on Detroit's West Coast road trip.

--DH Craig Monroe was looking for a pitch to handle Monday night and got it.

He slammed a fastball that was up and in for a two-run home run in the seventh inning to expand a 1-0 Detroit lead to a more safe 3-0.

Monroe had been looking for outside pitches until deciding to change the focus of his approach on the second pitch of his at-bat. He decided to look for something from the middle in, got it and drove it over the left field wall for his home run.

Monroe has eight hits in his last 17 at-bats.

--RF Magglio Ordonez rifled his 201st career home run Monday night in the fourth inning to start Detroit on its way to a 3-2 victory over Kansas City.

Ordonez is hitting well over .300 for the last two weeks and has been hitting with the power he showed with Chicago before signing with Detroit as a free agent two winters ago.

"I haven't played (much) the last two years," Ordonez said. "I think it was just a matter of time. I had to get used to playing every day to get my swing back and my rhythm."

--3B Brandon Inge wasn't in the starting lineup Monday night as manager Jim Leyland tried to recharge his offense.

Inge had a .176 batting average for his last 17 games, so Leyland sat him and put INF Omar Infante at third base.

Inge was a late-inning defensive replacement as the Tigers protected a 3-2 lead.

The last time Inge got a game off, he came out swinging a hot bat.

--OF Alexis Gomez got a start in left field Monday night.

Gomez, who gives Detroit a left-handed-hitting option, is the likely candidate to go to the minors when DH Dmitri Young returns from the disabled list. Young was eligible to be activated Sunday, but club officials determined he wasn't ready to return from his quad strain.

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