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Train Kept A-Rollin’, All 6 1/3 Innings Long

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Last week on ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption, those lovable curmudgeons Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon debated on whether or not Dontrelle Willis would win 10 games this season. The dialogue came on the heels of Willis’s 2009 debut, a spotty no decision. The question seemed oddly-placed, granted. But while they said they’d love a comeback story like that, there hopes weren’t high.
Maybe they will be now.
Willis hurled 6 1/3 innings of one-hit, two-walk ball last night against the Texas Rangers, whose potent as vinegar. In fact, no other team has more home runs this year than them (62 through 37 games heading into Tuesday’s games). Their batting average and runs scored are also among the league’s best.
One hit and two runs would be all the Rangers would amass in the game as the Tigers waltzed to a 4-0 win. Willis added five strikeouts to finish his pitch count at a sleek you-could-never-do-this-at-the-gas-station 100.
So that’s it. Dontrelle Willis is going to finish with at least 10 wins and be the subject of a Rick Reilly column teaching us about stick-to-it-iveness and why you should never give up your dreams, right?

Hold on, Reverend Optimistic Pants. Remember how I said Texas was horrible? While they do incredible things with their bats when they strike the ball, they also do sinful, unspeakable acts when they miss. They are among the league worst in walks and on-base percentage. For the Boys in Arlington, it’s either the Dust Bowl or … um, whatever the drastic opposite of the Dust Bowl is. (“Lots of rain” doesn’t have that prosaic glimmer.)
Willis’ problem has always been throwing balls either out of the strike zone or right down the center. He threw 61 strikes and 49 balls, which is decent, but not necessarily a warm and inviting sign.
Considering his sudden and saddening meltdown last year, it was probably a modest improbability that Willis would return to the major leagues as a starter. The anxiety disorder seemed to be a wall of smoke between the public and the truth, but maybe that’s all gone now.
Or maybe when Willis faces a team who learns to be patient, we’ll be seeing him back in Lakeland.
Notes Of Community Interest — Detroit’s team ERA is third in the American League … The bullpen showed up for 2 2/3 innings of perfect baseball, making it the sixth time the team shut out their opponent. Only Cincinnati has also pitched six shutouts … I miss Magglio Ordoñez … The guy who drew the two walks for Texas was Andruw Jones, which is convenient, because that’s the one speed he has in his arsenal.

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  • Tan The Man

    If Willis does win 10 games this season, I fear it will shadow Barry Zito finding his former pitching self…