Detroit Tigers News

Willis, Jackson Lead Tigers to Series Win

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Minnesota 0, Detroit 3 (box)

Carl Pavano got back to his usual dominance against the Tigers today at Comerica Park, but this time, it wasn’t good enough.

Pavano worked all eight innings for his club, needing just over 100 pitches to do so. He allowed just seven hits, he walked two and fanned five. The Tigers offense consisted of three rookies doing the damage against the right hander.

In his opposition, the Tigers got a throwback performance from lefthander Dontrelle Willis. Willis had perhaps his best start as a Tiger, tossing 6+ scoreless innings today. Willis kept the Twins off balance by mixing speeds and working effectively both in, and sometimes out of, the zone. Along the way he walked two, one in the first then the final batter he faced in the sixth, and struck out a season high six. It was exactly the type of game the Tigers and their over-worked bullpen needed.

As I mentioned above, all of the Tigers offense was generated by rookies. In the first inning, Austin Jackson lead off with a single, then stole second and moved to third when Drew Butera’s throw went into centerfield. Johnny Damon drove him home with a sacrifice fly to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead.

Jackson was at it again in the fifth. He roped a single to center that scored fellow rookie Scott Sizemore from second. Sizemore had legged out a double earlier in the inning. The Tigers would add an important insurance run on a Don Kelly RBI single in the eighth.

Joel Zumaya and Jose Valverde worked the final three innings without allowing a hit.

This was a tremendously well-pitched game on both sides. Pavano (3-2) throwing everything with movement, missing the middle of the Tigers’ bats. Willis (1-1) worked his fastball and changeup both away from the righthanders, and got big outs when he needed them. After that, it was time to sit back and watch the overpowering arms of Zumaya and Valverde slam the door on a series victory for Detroit.

I know it’s still just April, April in the D, but doesn’t this just feel like a big win for the Tigers? Not only does Willis continue to look better than he has in three years, but anytime you can take two out three against the Twins, that’s a good thing.

Cheers and Jeers after the jump, maybe a streak or two as well.

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Cheers for

  • Dontrelle Willis– Willis might not ever be the pitcher he was in 2005 again, but the 2010 version is showing he ain’t too shabby. Willis wrapped up his second career win as Tiger with his tremendous effort today. So far this year, Willis has three “quality” efforts in four starts and if you exclude his one inning relief outing last week, has walked nine batters in 23 innings. He lowered his ERA to 3.75 on the season, 3.13 as a starter.
  • Austin Jackson– Jackson accounted for both of the first two Tigers runs, scoring one and driving in the other. His two hits today gives him 31 on the season, which just so happens to lead the American League.
  • Joel Zumaya– Zumaya entered the game with a runner on and nobody out in the seventh and proceeded to get a double play ball and a groundout to preserve the 2-0 lead. He stayed in the game for the eighth and blew away Luke Hughes and Joe Mauer before ending his day with a fly ball out.
  • Magglio Ordonez– Maggs collected two hits today, the first of which was career hit number 2000. He became just the sixth Venezuelan-born player with at least that many hits. He doubled in the eighth and scored the Tigers third run.
  • Carl Pavano– Pavano was shelled in his last start in Detroit late last season, but was dazzling today, just as he had been in his first four starts against the Tigers last year. He deserved a better fate today.

Jeers for

  • Joe Mauer– Mauer had just one at bat today, a strikeout against Zumaya, so this is a series-wide jeer. Mauer went just 1 for 11 in the series. He’s still hitting .342.
  • Denard Span– Span went 0 for 4 today and just 2 for 12 in the series. There is a formula to beating the Twins; just keep Span and Mauer off the bases, and be sure to force a back injury onto Justin Morneau as well. Usually easier said than done.

We’re Going Streaking

  • The Tigers have now won two straight games for the first time since the final two game in Anaheim (4/15-4/16).
  • Johnny Damon failed to get a hit today, snapping his 15-game hitting streak, but he did drive in the game-winning run with his sacrifice fly in the first.
  • Austin Jackson has now gone three straight games without a strikeout after starting the year by fanning at least once in each of his first 19 games.

What’s on tap?

The Tigers open a weekend series with the Angels tomorrow night with Rick Porcello taking the mound. These two teams split four games in Anaheim last week. Look for a preview post here tomorrow morning. Until then let’s just bask in the warm glow of a Tigers victory.

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