Sometimes the game story is a lot more story than game. Tonight is one of those nights as Dontrelle Willis found something. He found his command. He found his confidence. He found himself with his very first Tigers win.
Willis looked like a different pitcher tonight. He had control in his Twins start, but against the Rangers he had command. He worked both sides of the plate to both lefties and righties. He was moving in and out, up and down and working the edges of the zone. He had a very good hitting team off balance. While he did get some help from his defense on some hard hit balls, he had more than his share of dribblers and routine grounders as well.
Willis allowed 2 baserunners in the first inning, and when he recorded the 3rd out of the debut inning that would be the last time for the night he would pitch from the stretch. He recorded the next 17 outs in order and was lifted when we halked the final hitter he faced.
The thing about comeback stories is that you have to have had something to come back from. Dontrelle was battling a lot of stuff, be it mental or physical or some combination of both, since signing his 3 year deal with the Tigers. I know there is doubt about the anxiety disorder DL stint, but whatever happened he wasn’t right before. Tonight he looked right.
I’m not ashamed to admit I didn’t have a good feeling about today’s game. The Tigers were without Magglio Ordonez. The Rangers were a hot to who could thump, and Willis was a question mark to say the very least. But this was one of the crispest games the team has played this year. The defense was on the mark. The offense kept the pressure on in the early going. The bullpen shut things down. A great night all around and the Tigers are at 5 games over .500, a new high water mark for the season.