Need more proof that the 2009 Detroit Tigers are different from last year's team? Not only did Dontrelle Willis win his first game in a Tigers uniform tonight, but he allowed only one hit over 6.1 innings.
That is not a typo. The date is not April 1. One hit. (Congratulations, Michael Young.) Go ahead and nitpick about the hard-hit balls that were hit right at fielders. Mention the nifty defensive plays made behind him. Maybe another opponent with a more patient lineup might have fought a bit harder. But you cannot argue that this is progress. And after the horror show we've all endured over the past year, that's nothing to dismiss.
Willis looked like a pitcher who belonged on the major league roster, not someone getting another chance while everyone crossed their fingers. Once again, he worked in the strike zone, instead of throwing wildly outside of it. 61 of his 101 pitches went for strikes. He only walked two batters. His stuff was good enough to get hitters out by itself, notching five strikeouts. By the time he walked Andruw Jones in the seventh inning, Willis had retired 17 straight Texas hitters.
This was the first glimpse of the guy Tigers fans hoped they'd see when he came to Detroit in The Trade. And if the D-Train really is back on track, what's already been a fun season to watch could become extremely rewarding.
For the second straight game, the Tigers' bullpen posted another fine performance. Brandon Lyon, Bobby Seay, Joel Zumaya, and Fernando Rodney combined to pitch 2.2 innings of perfect baseball. If you look past the two runs and seven hits Zach Miner gave up in his 4.1 innings on Sunday (which was practically a start, after Armando Galarraga imploded), the bullpen has allowed no runs and four hits in its last 13 innings.
Comment of the Night:
I’m loving this!!!!