After a two year absence, Dontrelle Willis made his way back to the National League in a close to flawless performance for the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday night. He held the Colorado Rockies scoreless, and helped his own cause in a 4-3 victory.
Willis allowed five hits, struck out three, and walked four batters in six innings of work. He was acquired in a trade Tuesday with the Detroit Tigers, and made his first start for a National League team since 2007. He looks for a new start after two disappointing seasons with the Tigers.
Rockies hitter were 0 for 10 against Willis with runners in scoring position. They missed another chance later in the game, and they left a combined 12 runners on the base paths. Center fielder Carlos Gonzalez knows his team needs to have timely hitting if they are to over come the Dodgers and Padres in the west.
“We’re not playing the right way,” Gonzalez said. “Yesterday we struck out like 14 times. We could have won the game but we played so badly they came back and won. Today Dontrelle he pitched a really good game, but I think we need to get better in about everything.”
Manager Jim Tracy also lamented the Rockies poor clutch hitting.
“The unfortunate thing is the game boils down to this — 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position,” Tracy said, “and we left 12 runners on base. There’s very little else to day. … The opportunity was there. We just couldn’t capitalize.”
Dontrelle also helped his cause with a single to lead off the third inning. Kelly Johnson followed with a sure double-play ball to first. Jason Giambi then committed a costly error by throwing the ball into the outfield over the head of Troy Tulowitzki. Both runners were safe. Stephen Drew then singled to left to bring home Willis.
Jhoulys Chacin had an impressive game of his own striking out nine Diamondbacks. It was the most Chacin had struck out over his 17 Major League starts. He only allowed one unearned run in five innings, but broke down in the sixth giving up three.
In a joking moment, Willis acknowledged that his head first slide into home plate was not preferred by his manager.
“I don’t know how to slide feet first,” he said. “I’m going to have to work on that.”
MLB Sportsbooks have set the Diamondbacks as underdogs to sweep the series from the Rockies at +200. The Rockies line is set at -230, and the over/under for total runs scored in the game is set at 8.