Wednesday, May 20, 2009

D-Train Rolls

Photo: AP

Could this be the start of something? It’s too early to tell, and the sample size is small, but Dontrelle Willis is beginning to show some promise. Well, I guess 6.1 innings of one-hit ball is a little bit more than promise. Yeah, the Rangers hit some balls hard right at people and there were some sweet defensive plays, but Dontrelle only walked two and he struck out five (interestingly, both walks were to Andruw Jones, but then again, Jones has, like, six home runs off him). He did not look like he was struggling to throw strikes. He was able to make good pitches even when he fell behind hitters, and for the most part, he was not knocking his catcher over like he was last year. I guess what impressed me most were the fans. I know firsthand how impatient and jaded Tigers fans can be (but never fickle). They’re not Yankees fans, but they do get antsy the minute someone starts struggling, and if you begin your Tigers career that way, look out (which makes the fact that Brandon Inge has remained the most popular player even through some lean offensive years that much more remarkable). But they sure did warm to Dontrelle quickly, and I dare say they found it somewhat inspiring. The bullpen turned in a strong performance as well. And the thought just occurred to me: Joel Zumaya’s gone on record saying he’s grown up now and he’s *not* going to sneak looks at the radar gun. Well, when he’s at home, he doesn’t have to. The crowd reaction will tell him when he’s hit 100. By the way, I totally forgot it was Brandon Inge’s birthday until after the game.

This series continues tonight with Justin Verlander going up against lefty Matt Harrison. Justin’s been tremendous recently, and he’ll be trying to get double-digit strikeouts in four consecutive games. The Rangers do strike out a lot, so he’s got a reasonable chance. Hopefully all those strikeouts won’t drive his pitch count up high like they did in Minnesota. Meanwhile, Matt Harrison’s been doing quite a good job for the Rangers. He’s pitched back-to-back complete games. The Tigers beat him earlier in the year, but they didn’t exactly pound the ball against him (it was a 4-3 win). With the lefty on the mound for Texas, Wilkin Ramirez is set to make his Major League debut (as of last night, Leyland planned on DHing him). I work a rare weekday shift, which I don’t particularly care for, but at least it’ll allow me to get home in time to watch the game. Your Mood Music for tonight: It is Country Night at Comerica Park, so I thought about using some sort of country song, but I don’t listen to country music, and the few songs that I tolerate weren’t appropriate. So I decided to abandon that idea. Instead, I’ll draw inspiration from last night. During the post-game show, they interviewed Gerald Laird in the locker room. For some reason, he had a pair of sunglasses perched on top of his head. Considering that it was dark outside, this was rather strange, and Mickey York went for the obvious comment after the interview: “Gerald Laird wears his sunglasses at night.” Thus, this song.

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