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Dontrelle Willis: Night To Remember

Andrew GodfreyCorrespondent IMay 20, 2009

DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 27 :  Pitcher Dontrelle Willis of the Detroit Tigers pitches in relief against the Toronto Blue Jays February 27, 2009 at Dunedin Stadium in Dunedin, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Dontrelle Willis 1-0, 3.27 pitched six and one-third innings of one hit baseball to notch his first win since 2007 in the Tigers 4-0 shutout of the Rangers. Defeating the third best hitting team in the majors proves that Willis is on track to being the pitcher he was when he won 22 games for the Marlins in 2005.

The Tigers won their fourth consecutive game with the win.

He made a marked improvement from his 2009 debut last week when he allowed four runs and eight hits in four and two-thirds innings against the Twins. He lowered his ERA from 7.71 to 3.27 with his performance last night.

Willis had an 0-2 record and a 9.38 ERA last season. He pitched 24 innings and gave up  25 runs and 18 hits while walking 35 and striking out 18. He has walked only four in 11 innings this season which is close to half of the innings pitched last season.

I have enjoyed watching Willis pitch and seeing his enthusiasm for the game. He has also done a lot of work with kids in clinics.

His next start will be against the Colorado Rockies who are 24th in the majors in hitting. If the Tigers can continue to get solid starts like the one last night from Willis that will give them one of the better starting rotations.

Justin Verlander has returned to the form of the 2007 season after a shaky start to the 2009 season. He was 1-2, 6.75 giving up 24 runs and 34 hits in 28 innings in April. In his last four starts starting with last start in April he has pitched 29 innings and allowed three runs and 16 hits. He has struck 69 in 50 innings this season.

Rookie Rick Porcello 4-3, 3.86 leads the starters in wins and Edwin Jackson 3-2, 2.42 is second in the AL in ERA behind Zack Greinke who has a 0.60 ERA. Zach Miner 3-1, 4.61 is apparently the odd man out with the return of Willis to the starting rotation.

Armando Galarraga 3-3, 5.62 has struggled this season after being the best Tigers starter in 2009 with a 13-7, 5.62 ERA.

Curtis Granderson and Brandon Inge surprisingly lead the team in homers with 10 each. Miguel Cabrera is next with eight homers and Jeff Larish with four homers and Ramon Santiago with three homers are next with Magglio Ordonez only having two homers.

The Tigers have a precarious one game lead over the Royals and they start a three game series with the Royals on Monday.

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