Jeremy Bonderman gave his best “no way” smirk when somebody asked him about whether he’d been through any beer showers lately.
“You kidding me?” he said.
A man of few words, he decided to expand a bit.
“I mean, I’ve played long enough,” he said. “It was just fun. Everybody gave me a hug and said ‘Congratulations’. That means more to me than any of the other stuff.”
Bonderman has pitched in the majors since before many of the Mariners were in high school. He hadn’t won a game since Sept. 8, 2010 before tonight’s 4-1 victory over the New York Yankees. Things didn’t start off so well for Bonderman after a run in the first inning and then a two-on, none out jam in the second.
But he retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced.
“It feels amazing,’’ he said. “It’s been a long time, almost three years getting back on the field. So, feeling you can compete and hold your own feels really good.’’
Still, Bonderman wasn’t about to overdo the celebration.
After his six innings were done, he went in the clubhouse and training room and underwent his usual post-start routine until the game ended. He says he didn’t give much thought to what it had taken to be in-line for the win as the final few outs were recorded.
Nor was he planning any celebratory phone calls.
He estimates he left some 30 or so tickets for family and friends from Pasco and elsewhere to attend the game. His wife and children were also here and he packed up quietly afterwards, planning to slip out and spend time with them.
“We don’t have a ton of time around him, but you know what he’s gone through to get here,’’ said Brendan Ryan, whose sinking liner in front of Ichiro in the fourth delivered the only runs Bonderman would need. “You see the look in his eye and how competitive he is and everything. It’s awesome to see what he did today.
“We’re happy for him,’’ Ryan added. “I’m sure he feels it’s been a long time coming, but hopefully it was all worth it.’’
Jason Bay added a two-run single in that fourth inning as the Mariners rallied for four runs against Hiroki Kuroda after there were two outs and none on. Michael Morse got the whole thing started with a ground-rule double to center and hobbled in to second base, his right quad still sore after that injury layoff.
“Morse got us going there, he’s the one that got us started and good for him,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “Obviously, he still can’t run very well. He’s got to protect it. If that ball doesn’t bounce over the fence, he probably doesn’t even get in to second base right there.”
Fortunately for the Mariners, walks to Nick Franklin and Kelly Shoppach — who has now caught 34 innings the past three games — pushed Morse to third base, so he could literally trot home on Ryan’s single.
“That’s what we talk about in regard to stringing at-bats together,” Wedge said. “We’ve got to contineu to work to be better with that.”
Bonderman worked to get better after his last outing, a 10-0 rout at the hands of the Minnesota Twins. Wedge attributed much of that to his needing to get his feet wet in the majors again after such a long absence.
Then came the rough first inning or two in this game before Bonderman turned it around.
“I think he needed to get comfortable out there,’’ he said of Friday’s effort. “He came out a little erratic but he righted himself fairly quickly. And once he did, we saw the guy we saw most of spring training.’’