At times we weren’t sure it was ever going to happen. There were the occasional flashes that made us think maybe we were wrong.
Then there were the complete breakdowns.
Last night – no doubts.
Last night – no maybe’s.
Last night – was spectacular!
Dontrelle Willis showed the hometown folks the real Dontrelle. The guy was great.
Willis picked up his first win as a Detroit Tiger by beating a red hot Texas Rangers ball club 4-0. Willis allowed only one hit over the 6 1/3 innings that he pitched. He retired 17 batters in a row, walked only two and struck out five.
At one point, after a strike out, he thumped his chest with the confidence we wanted – for so long – to see in him.
And, when Jim Leyland changed pitchers in the seventh, Dontrelle exited to a standing ovation from an appreciative crowd, and then gratefully acknowledged the support.
Everyone was talking about it. Twitter was abuzz with Tweets about his performance, and the local news and national news media beamed when reporting the story.
In an after game interview with FSDetroit, he thanked the city for staying behind him through all of his troubles, and reiterated that he was excited to have the opportunity to play ball in Detroit.
Toward the end of the 2008 season, I had been critical of him. That was until I saw how hard he was working to turn things around. Mostly what stood out for me, was that during this time I never heard a negative word come from him. No gripes or excuses – just an honest desire to be the pitcher that he was when the Tigers picked him up from the Marlins.
It speaks to this man’s character.
This has a real rags to riches feel to it. The leap from desperation to destination had been a difficult one for Willis, but the Tigers stood by him. Detroit stood by him.
Welcome back, Dontrelle, and please – enjoy your stay in the D!
Follow me on Twitter!