illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Six innings! Two runs! More strikeouts than walks! No hyperextension! Dontrelle Willis is BACK!
OK, OK, I will admit that I was not as happy with this outing as Rod and Mario were. Dontrelle threw what felt like a million balls in the first inning. His location was not great. It seemed like a lucky double play was the only thing that kept the inning from turning into a Royal blue bloodbath. He settled down in the second but there was more messiness in the third (a few singles, including a bunt, and a passed ball). It just didn’t look good.
Somehow the double plays kept coming, Dontrelle kept hanging in there, and before you knew it six innings had gone by, the Tigers were only down two runs, and the Royals bullpen was coming into the game, which is an encouraging thing for every batter. The Detroit bullpen was good enough to more or less back Dontrelle and the Detroit bats took advantage of the Danny Hugheses and Luis Mendozas of the world.
Dontrelle did not get the win, but he did have a quality start and while he definitely was not overpowering, he also didn’t look like he was completely melting down out there. This is good. This is what we NEED from him, because the Tigers need all the viable starters they can get and the season will be a lot better with a healthy, effective Dontrelle than it will be if the Tigs have to look to replace him.
So: welcome back, Dontrelle! Please do this again. Many times.
In bat news, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez both homered. Production from the middle of the lineup! Why I NEVER! In fact, in this game Magglio was 3-for-4 and Miggy was 4-for-5. Can you imagine if this starts to actually work out as planned?
Austin Jackson had a good game at the plate. Inge hopped in as a pinch hitter (Don Kelly started at third) and knocked out a double. Even Adam Everett had a double– he’s off to a nice start too (in a very few at-bats, against the Royals, etc). The only really worrying bit came early in the game when Carlos Guillen was on first base. There was an attempted pick-off throw. Guillen ran back to the bag and stretched to get his foot on it; he came up limping a little, grabbing at his left quad or his groin area. He stayed in for most of the rest of the game and made some outs. He didn’t SEEM to be hurting, but this is Carlos Guillen, so you never know. Hopefully someone will keep an eye on it.
Now, the Tigers were ABYSMAL when it came to hitting with men in scoring position early in the game (i.e. before the bullpen came into play), so we shouldn’t get too excited here. But it’s something.
In non-Dontrelle pitching news, Eddie Bonine got the win. He was in for an inning and loaded the bases, but got out of the jam himself. He was mixing in some offspeed stuff that was moving really well; I wasn’t paying super close attention, but it might have been the knuckleball. If it was… well, throwing a knuckleball in a close game with the bases loaded? That takes balls (baseball and otherwise). Give that reliever some credit, yo.
Papa Grande was able to come back from his unfortunate outing last night and throw a good final frame here, getting a fly ball, a groundout, and a strikeout. He was all pumped up after he K’d Podsednik to end the game. It was good to see him do the closer thing and push the previous game totally out of his brain, and it was good to see him pitch effectively here, even if it wasn’t a save situation (as the Tigers were up by 4 at that point).
I’m… kind of… almost… encouraged? With the home opener tomorrow, dare we hope to dream?