PREGAME: I’m certainly rooting for the guy, but the phrase “The Tigers will look to Dontrelle Willis to secure a series win,” just doesn’t have me bubbling over with confidence.
Willis wasn’t that good this spring, save for a shiny ERA, so the hopes aren’t high here that he’ll magically find something today. I’ll be thrilled to be wrong though.
He’ll be opposed by saber-pitcher Brian Bannister. Bannister hasn’t started against the Tigers since 2008. He faced them 3 times that season and shut them out twice. In fact the Tigers have only scored more than 2 runs against him once.
Raburn gets the nod at second base today – and it has nothing to do with Sizemore’s gaffe in extra innings. This was decided prior to last night’s game. And Don Kelly goes at third base.
POSTGAME: I’m happy to be wrong. Dontrelle Willis was effective. Things were shaky of course at the outset, what with the 4 pitch walk to open the game. And yes, he did benefit from 3 double plays. But he also didn’t allow an extra base hit, and didn’t issue a free pass after the first inning. In fact you might even say he was pounding the zone after the first inning with 68% of his pitches the next 5 innings going for strikes. And he certainly wasn’t getting extra help from home plate ump Chris Tiller.
I acknowledge that the Royals aren’t a good offensive club, but I think we can say Dontrelle was decent, and do so without grading on a curve.
- The Tigers offense runs through Venezuela with Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Orondez, and to a lesser extent Carlos Guillen, providing the thump all series.
- Adam Everett reached base twice, but also had two misplays in the field.
- Gerald Laird hit the ball hard twice. Directly at outfielders, but it wasn’t all grounders to third and pop-ups to first. But he will need to get a hit or throw out a runner soon.
- Ryan Raburn had a rough game with 3 K’s and a not so stellar game in left field (misjudging a liner and not getting his feet set on a Rick Ankiel flyball for a throw to third).
- It took Eddie Bonine 21 pitches to get through his inning, but only one ball was hit even moderately hard and 16 of the pitches went for strikes.
- Nice bounce back for Jose Valverde with a 1-2-3 9th.
- Brandon Inge and Austin Jackson appear ready to make a living in the right centerfield gap.
- When a pitcher is in the 5th inning or so and has only recorded 1 ground ball out, running with a slow runner on a 3-2 count to stay out of the double play seems ill advised.