"We had to keep playing," said shortstop Edgar Renteria, who had three hits from the leadoff spot, including his sixth career grand slam. "We lost one guy, but we need to continue to play and try to win."
Detroit manager Jim Leyland gave his players all the credit for hanging the jersey in the dugout, a shot that appeared on the FOX regional television broadcast. Now, Leyland wants his team to continue to play with the fight it showed Saturday and not let Bonderman's injury serve as an excuse.
"If the players let this setback with Bonderman creep in there as some form of excuse, I'll be very disappointed," he said, "because that's not the type of team we have. I'm assuming everyone will continue to carry their share of the load, and we'll move forward."
Bonderman was released from Detroit Medical Center on Saturday and arrived at the Detroit clubhouse around the seventh inning.
He decided to watch the last part of the game on one of the clubhouse televisions.
Then he saw it, his jersey in the dugout, the setting sun gleaming in the background.
"It was a nice gesture," Bonderman said after the game. "They didn't have to do it, though. I ain't dead yet."
Neither was the Tigers' offense, despite the fact it trailed, 3-2, heading into the bottom of the eighth and looked to be headed for a fifth straight loss and third straight to the Indians. But left fielder Marcus Thames sent the first pitch of the inning into the left-field foul pole to tie the game.
"To me, [Thames] has maybe the most power on the team," said third baseman Carlos Guillen, who hit his 100th career home run earlier in the game. "He'd probably hit a lot of home runs if he played every day."
""We had to keep playing. We lost one guy, but we need to continue to play and try to win."
-- shortstop Edgar Renteria
Magglio Ordonez followed with a double to center, just past the glove of diving center fielder Grady Sizemore, and Miguel Cabrera knocked him in with a single to left, giving the Tigers the lead for good.
"I'm very happy for Miguel," Leyland said. "He's had a lot of pressure on him, and he came through with a huge hit, and Renteria put it away."
Guillen followed Cabrera's RBI single with a single to right. Brent Clevlen, in his first Major League start this season, sacrifice bunted him to second, and an intentional walk to Brandon Inge loaded the bases with one out. Renteria fell behind in the count 1-2, but turned on reliever Rafael Betancourt's inside fastball and pulled it over the left-center-field wall and into the bullpen to make it 8-3.
Renteria's slam was his second this season. The first also came against Cleveland on April 16, off reigning American League Cy Young winner C.C Sabathia.
"I try to go out there and do my job," Renteria said. "I look for good pitches and try to bring somebody in."
The Indians tacked on a run off reliever Zach Miner to cut the deficit to four with two outs in the ninth, but closer Todd Jones got Jamey Carroll to fly out to end it. It was the 40-year-old Jones' 310th career save, which ties him for 17th place on the all-time list with Goose Goosage.
Lost in the comeback was the effort of 43-year-old starter Kenny Rogers, who had his third straight quality start. He allowed three runs -- one earned -- on five hits over seven innings, the third straight start he has lasted that long.
"He's been real good lately," Leyland said. "He turned it up when he had to, took some off, pitched within himself. I thought he was tremendous today, a really great effort."
Rogers' throwing error in the sixth helped the Indians grab a 3-2 lead, but Rogers, like the rest of the Tigers, felt happy to pull out the win.
"We're not clicking offensively like we want to," he said, "so we got to start winning some close ballgames. I was more than happy with my start, and it was nice to see us get some runs at the end."