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 Tigers look to ride D-Train to first win

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PostSubject: Tigers look to ride D-Train to first win   Sat Apr 05, 2008 2:22 am

04/04/2008 7:50 PM ET
Tigers look to ride D-Train to first win
Detroit (0-4) vs. Chicago (2-2), Saturday, 3:55 p.m. ET
By Scott McNeish /

The much-anticipated unveiling of the Tigers' biggest offseason pitching acquisition has arrived. They hope the D-Train is back on track, because they need a win.

Starter Dontrelle Willis makes his Tigers debut on Saturday at Comerica Park in the second game of a three-game set with the White Sox. The two-time All-Star and 2005 National League Cy Young runner-up looks to help Detroit earn its first victory this season.

"I'll go out and compete and have fun and see what happens," Willis said. "Try to make quality pitches and get some quality hitters out."

The Tigers need him to. In Friday's 8-5 loss, the Tigers' fourth straight to open the year, the White Sox mashed 13 hits to keep Detroit as the only team in the Majors without a win.

Willis did not have the spring the Tigers had hoped for after obtaining him from Florida in a December trade that included Miguel Cabrera. He struggled with his control and was the only Tigers starter to fail to escape the fourth inning in a Spring Training game.

Despite having impressive velocity, with his fastball buzzing in at 94 mph, Willis went 1-3 with an 8.64 ERA, walking 15 and striking out 12 in 16 2/3 innings.

In his last spring start, Willis have up six earned runs -- five in the first -- on eight hits in three innings. He has since worked with pitching coaches and said the control problems have been corrected.

The coaches made it simple for him in a recent bullpen session. Just throw it over the plate, they said. Willis claimed the session went well and he's ready.

"I've had great springs and I've had bad springs. It doesn't necessarily correlate with what you do during the season," Willis said. "I'm not concerned. I'm not worried. And I wasn't when I was struggling this spring. I'm just going to go out there and have fun and do my thing.

"I think I put so much emphasis on doing well that it's kind of unrealistic. So sometimes I just have to go out there and get back to the basics, just have fun and compete and represent the team and the family and the city."

Good news for the city: Wills has a history of success in the early portion of the season. He has a 14-2 record and 3.18 ERA for his career in March and April.

On top of that, he starts a day after his team's bats seemed to stir after being shut down in the previous two games.

The Tigers posted season highs in hits (11) and runs in Friday's loss to the White Sox. They had three hits with runners in scoring position, more than they had in their entire series against Kansas City to open the season.

With a new series comes a chance to turn the page and start fresh, and the Tigers looked like different hitters Friday.

Manager Jim Leyland approved. He had no complaints about his offense's approach, arguably the biggest trouble area thus far, in his postgame interviews.

"I thought we were much, much better. The concentration level was very good," Leyland said. "I thought we went after the ball pretty good offensively. I thought we attacked a little better. We had some better at-bats."

Pitching was the strength in the Tigers' first three games. Friday, it was hitting. If they can put them together, win No. 1 shouldn't be far behind.

"We just need to get that first win," staring pitcher Nate Robertson said. "Once we get that first win, I think we'll start rolling a little bit."

Pitching matchup
DET: LHP Dontrelle Willis (10-15, 5.17 ERA)
Willis will make his American League debut in front of a home crowd and FOX network regional television audience. He had one start against the White Sox in Interleague play last year, but he exited after two innings with elbow soreness and three runs allowed.

CWS: RHP Gavin Floyd (1-5, 5.27 ERA)
Packed with potential, Floyd struggled early last year but looked sharp down the stretch, posting a 3.41 ERA in his final six starts. Floyd has made four career starts against Detroit, going 1-0 with a 2.66 ERA.

Placido Polanco is 5-for-10 in his career against Floyd. ... The Tigers have gone 5-for-37 this season with runners in scoring position. ... Clete Thomas has five hits in his first nine Major League at-bats. ... The last time Detroit started 0-4 was 2003, the year it lost an American League-record 119 games.

On the Internet
Gameday Audio
• Gameday
• Official game notes
On television
On radio
• 97.1 FM/WXYT 1270

Up next

• Sunday: Tigers (Justin Verlander, 0-0, 6.00) vs. White Sox (Mark Buehrle, 0-0, 37.80), 8:05 p.m. ET

• Monday: Off-day

• Tuesday: Tigers (Kenny Rogers, 0-1, 3.00) at Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1-0, 2.31), 2:05 p.m. ET

Scott McNeish is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers look to ride D-Train to first win   Sat Apr 05, 2008 5:46 am

I just had a sinking premonition something like this would happen while down in Florida. they didn't look happy even then....
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