Dontrelle Willis' high exaggerated Marichal-like kick silenced the Braves through six innings of play. Don't be fooled though. This is progress and progress alone. His $7 million salary ranks third behind Detroit's pitchers Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman of all Major League pitchers. Again, "Major League". Willis has been in minor league ball for the majority of the 2008 season. Between his injury and unfortunate play, fans have somehow forgotten what this southpaw can actually bring to the Tigers, let alone to any minor league team.
Willis started the 2008 campaign with the Detroit Tigers, splitting time between them and the Hens during his rehab stint. On June 10, 2008, Willis was sent down to Single-A Lakeland, a day after a horrific start, on which he gave up eight earned runs and five walks in just 1 1/3 innings he pitched against the Cleveland Indians. In Lakeland he found the strike zone a little better, but had a hard time closing out his starts. Before his call up on August 12 to Toledo, Willis was 0-3 with the Flying Tigers, having a 4.50 ERA in the six games he appeared in.
However, going back to Friday night, there was a different Willis. This Willis made some strides at reclaiming what was once his - wins.
Let's break his night down: Willis allowed only two runs on eights hits and two walks while fanning five. Gary Glover came late in the eighth inning to nab his first save of the season, thus giving Willis a 2-1 record as a Mud Hens starter.
Dusty Ryan had a solid night going 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBI, while Kody Kirkland followed his left field shot Thursday in Toledo with a double and striking out twice in a frustrating Friday night in Richmond.
The rest of the Hens staggered a bit, but the night belonged to Willis and Ryan. Is D-Train back? Don't hold your breath, but don't doubt him either.