The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Fun and Excitement Returns

I talk about fun and excitement regularly in reference to Dontrelle Willis. Some of you probably think I'm just hung up on that, but it actually comes from something Dontrelle said quite frequently in interviews last year. When broadcasters or other media types would ask Dontrelle how he was enjoying major league life, his newfound success, or something similar, he would usually respond by saying something to the effect of how much fun he was having, how honored he was to be there, and how he was going to keep trying to be about fun and excitement - to bring some of that to the ballpark for himself, his teammates, and the fans.

While tonight's start was certainly not his most spectacular of the year, Willis brought the fun and excitement again - and he may have actually brought some of it out of his teammates, although not always in ways we would all enjoy. Well, at least those of us who were cheering for the Marlins.

Willis pitched 6 2/3 innings against the Phillies tonight, giving up 4 hits while walking none and striking out 3. It was encouraging to see Willis walk no one and to post an in game WHIP of less than 1.00, but he did still work deep into counts - throwing 102 pitches (65 for strikes). The Phillies did score one run tonight (while Willis was in the game) but it was unearned, so Dontrelle has still not given up an earned run this year (through 19.1 innings) and is now 3 - 0 on the year.

Coming into the game Dontrelle told the media that "no one wants to be a one year wonder." Willis is on track to prove that he was no such thing last season.

Some of his teammates are starting to make us wonder though. For the second game in a row, Miguel Cabrera lost a routine fly ball which allowed a run to score. Tonight the run was of little consequence (the dropped ball in the previous game cost the Marlins the game), but it also wasn't made difficult by the sun, like the ball on Sunday, although the lighting at Philadelphia's new Citizens' Bank Park may have complicated the issue some.

Alex Gonzalez was particularly dreadful tonight, both in the field and at the plate. Usually the book on Alex is that his glove is so good that if he just fields his position up to the high standards he has set for himself, any offense that he might provide is merely icing on the cake. However, he committed one error on a fairly routine grounder in the hole and made another error in judgment (although not in the scorebook) in throwing to third base in an attempt to gun down a non-forced runner on another ground ball.

Earlier in the game Gonzalez had avoided being hit by a pitch by attempting to swing at it. Miraculously Gonzalez was able to make contact with the ball, although he did fall down while doing so. The combination of athleticsm and total lack of strike zone awareness Gonzalez displayed on that pitch was mind-numbing.

As feared on this site earlier today, Jeff Conine again looked brutal tonight. Fortunately when Willis was removed from the game, the Marlins made a double switch, bringing Abe Nunez into left field (he walked in his only plate appearance). I can already feeling the platoon coming, at least until Conine warms up or gives up.

Despite the performances of Gonzalez, Conine, and Cabrera, the Marlins put together a nice win tonight. Dontrelle didn't continue his Ruthian performance at the plate (he was 0 for 3 with a strikeout, although he looked solid in his at bats). All in all a solid win for the Fish tonight to start out their three game set in the city of Brotherly Love.

Oh, and the D-Train, who didn't deserve the Rookie of the Year Award last year according to many, is 3 - 0 with a 0.00 ERA and a WHIP of less than 1. I suppose I shouldn't say that though because I don't want to jinx the guy.

Off to watch Mr. Bonds tee off against the Padres... But I'll leave you with a parting thought - why do the Blue Jays new uniforms showcase such a minimal amount of blue? I suppose that's like asking why the White Sox don't wear white socks (or why they - and the Red Sox - spell socks as "sox").


Post a Comment

<< Home