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Pitching woes follow Willis

Pitching woes follow Willis
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Dontrelle Willis says he puts each performance, good and bad, behind him and focuses on what lies ahead.

That approach will serve him well after Friday afternoon's outing.

Willis was inconsistent at best in giving up four runs (two earned) on three hits, a walk, an error and a hit batter. He only got three outs and took the loss as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Detroit Tigers 6-4.

"It was a tough day," Willis said. "But I like where I was in the strike zone, and I felt confident with all my pitches."

Willis finished his day by walking John McDonald on four pitches before throwing two strikes to Wayne Lydon, then hitting him. He had 25 strikes on 43 pitches.

"He got a little too jumpy," Tigers catcher Gerald Laird said. "He made some good pitches and made some bad pitches. But it was something to build from."

And that is what new Tigers pitching coach Rick Knapp wanted to stress: anything positive.

"That had to be better than last year," Knapp said.

And it was. Willis walked 35 in 24 innings last year. And while this performance was not good, he was downright horrible at times in 2008.

"After the walk," Willis said, "I attacked the strike zone rather than throwing ball 8, 9 and 10."

He got behind 3-0 on Kevin Millar but got to a full count before having Millar foul off a pitch. Millar then drilled a double. Willis never got off track for long but also did not stay on track enough.

"With his rhythm and overall delivery, he was in a pretty good sync in the first inning," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "But then, he was not so good."

Knapp came to the mound to tell Willis that Lydon would be his final batter because he did not want him to exceed 45 pitches.

Armando Galarraga survived a shaky start in the game to surrender one run in two innings. He loaded the bases with one out in the first with two walks and a hit batter but got Adam Lind (sacrifice fly) and Rod Barajas to fly out and end the inning.

"He was just missing with his pitches and got into trouble," Laird said. "But he got out of trouble, and that's what you want to see."

Galarraga said, "My ball was all over the place, but I made an adjustment in the second inning."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: March 2, 2009

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