D-Train Almost Flawless in Detroit Debut

Johnny LawrenceCorrespondent IMay 19, 2009

While most of Detroit's eyes were on the Red Wings-Blackhawks Western Conference Finals game, there was another significant event within a mile of Joe Louis Arena.

A moment many Tiger fans thought they would never see occurred Tuesday night when Dontrelle Willis picked up his first win in a Detroit uniform, shutting out the Texas Rangers through 6-1/3 innings in their 4-0 victory.

In his spectacular Comerica Park debut, he allowed just three runners to reach base.  Willis surrendered a hit to Michael Young and walked Andruw Jones in the first inning, but induced a fly ball off the bat of Marlon Byrd to end the threat. 

He went on to retire 17 consecutive batters, sending away everyone he faced until he walked Jones in the seventh.

Approximately two hours before the Red Wings beat the Blackhawks in overtime, Willis walked off the field to a standing ovation of nearly 24,000. 

He tossed 61 of 100 pitches for strikes, and Willis got ahead of just about every hitter he faced. 

Willis used different arm slots, mixing his fastball, curve, sinker, and changeup with precision.  He pounded the strike zone with an active fastball registering as high as 93 mph. 

Willis combined with four Detroit pitchers to one-hit the American League's third highest-scoring team.  Brandon Lyon, Bobby Seay, Joel Zumaya, and Fernando Rodney followed up their starter with a hitless 2-2/3 scoreless to preserve the win.

Reminiscent of his time in Florida, he earned his first victory in the majors since Sept. 25, 2007.

Willis' next start will come on Sunday against the Colorado Rockies.