Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Some part of The Ford will probably always be standing at the CoPa, watching Jeremy Bonderman -- pretty much The Official Tiger of The Official Blog of The Ford -- strike out three White Sox in the first inning Wednesday night with the nastiest stuff he's seen in person in a long time.

It wasn't so much that the stuff was that nasty. Then again, a 95 mph heater, a 86 mph change, and an 85 mph slurve (say it.... sluuuurve. It's the pitch that's as much fun to say as it is to watch.) will humble almost any hitter.

But really, it's the fact that eveyone in the stadium knew what pitches were coming. Fastball. Change. Slurve. Fastball Fastball. Change. Every pitch felt scripted, felt right, felt destined.

And sure enough, Bonderman was on fire. Even when he made a bad pitch in the third, and then again in the fifth. He could feel it. Surrendering a homer in the third, well, he didn't show much emotion on that one, but the one in the fifth, he vented after the inning was over.

And when he went back on the field in the sixth, it was over.

No more runs. No nothing.

Just a clean sixth and seventh, mowing down hitters to get the Tigers to where they could rally.

Understand this: The Tigers scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Nearly batted around. And for all that time, Bonderman was sitting on the bench, waiting for his turn.

And then after nearly 30 minutes of waiting, he calmly strode to the mound, went into the windup, and set down the Sox, 1-2-3, on seven pitches.

Jim Thome took Bonderman to eight pitches in a single at-bat in the first inning.

But by the seventh?

Bonderman was through. Dye, Pierzynski, Crede, done. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7, easy as you please.

Y'know, The Ford's not sure if he could handle a Tigers playoff game. It felt like half of Detroit was at the CoPa, cheering on Bonderman from their vaguely oxymoronig standing-room-only seats. For a mid-July game -- even one against the world champions who've been picked to repeat by nearly everyone with a press pass beyond Eight Mile -- the crowd was insane, picking up on a must-win electricity surging through the stands.

Win this one, and the Tigers are back at 4 1/2 games up, where they were entering the series. Lose it, and, well, most of those folks beyond Eight Mile are feeling pretty smug with their October reservations in Chicago.

But Bonderman was locked in, from those first entirely predictable fastballs, changeups and slurves, all the way 'till the eighth inning, when, with one man on and one out, he left the game to a thunderous standing ovation and tipped his cap in recognition of it.

Sure, Carlos Guillen scored the winning run, after getting on base on a bloop to center.

Sure, Craig Monroe crushed the grand slam to left field for the winning runs, when most folks were simply hoping for a double, or even just a sacrifice fly.

But it was Bonderman who won it for the Tigers.

Entirely predictable.

And if he's that predictable for the rest of the season, well, those October visitors might be Motown-bound, sooner or later.

And The Ford -- and you, dear reader -- will know where it all began.

Thus mytholigizeth The Ford


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