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Willis responds in dugout after exit


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It's nice to see the stories on how positive Willis remains, even after experiencing a tough outing.

 

Willis' woes mount after latest loss

By Joe Capozzi

 

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

 

Sunday, May 07, 2006

 

MIAMI GARDENS ? After his quickest exit of the season in Florida's 7-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night, Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis was more animated on the bench than he was on the mound.

 

Willis was about to leave the dugout after allowing six earned runs in less than five innings when he turned to manager Joe Girardi and said: "Don't lose confidence in me. I'm going to get it done."

 

And with that, Girardi sat Willis down next to him and had a friendly but lengthy discussion about what the left-hander can do to work out of the worst start of his career.

 

From the fifth to the eighth inning, Willis could be seen waving his hands and shaking his head as he talked with Girardi. During their conversation, the Marlins scored six times, falling short once again for their ninth straight loss at Dolphin Stadium.

 

"He came up and... it led to a long conversation," Girardi said, before adding with a laugh: "We started scoring runs when we had that conversation. I should have kept talking to him. That was my biggest mistake of the night."

 

Girardi said he is not about to lose confidence in Willis. He knows Willis is having a difficult time trying to adjust from being a 22-game winner on a veteran team last year to being a 24-year-old leader on a team of mostly rookies this year.

 

The difference has been glaring. Willis was 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA after his first seven starts last year. After his first seven starts this year, he is 1-3 with a 5.15 ERA.

 

His ERA is the highest it has been since May 20, 2003, when it was 7.07 after his third career start. He did not get his third loss last year until June 28.

 

"He expects a lot of success. I think he's trying too hard," Girardi said. "You know it's killing him. He expects a lot better than what happened tonight."

 

Making his 100th career start, Willis nearly escaped from a bases-loaded jam in the second. But an 0-2 pitch to Cardinals starting pitcher Mark Mulder got past catcher Miguel Olivo for a passed ball and an unearned run. Mulder struck out on the next pitch to end the inning.

 

Scott Rolen singled to start the fourth, and Jim Edmonds singled after throwing his bat at a 1-2 pitch. Rolen scored on a grounder by So Taguchi, which third baseman Miguel Cabrera mishandled for his eighth error.

 

Willis retired the next three batters to keep the score at 2-0, but that didn't last long.

 

Hector Luna led off the fifth with a double, then Albert Pujols singled and Juan Encarnacion tripled. Willis was yanked after giving up a double to Mulder.

 

When the inning ended, the Cardinals had batted 10 times and scored five runs. Willis ran off the mound and, after cooling off for several minutes, approached Girardi.

 

"That was the first time I ever sat down and talked to a coach (during a game). I never had a veteran major-league catcher as a coach before," said Willis, who lost his third straight start for the first time since July 8-22, when he gave up 23 earned runs for an ERA of 15.92.

 

He has allowed 17 earned runs during his current streak, with losses to the Cubs, Phillies and Cardinals for a 7.65 ERA.

 

Willis said Girardi told him "I was throwing the ball good. I just have to do different things in different situations, change speeds or change eye levels."

 

The Marlins are 2-11 at home, the worst home record in the major leagues. Despite the team's struggles, Willis said the morale in the clubhouse is high. Girardi said that high morale comes from Willis, who has displayed mature leadership when times are most tough.

 

"One of the things you love about him is he takes responsibility for what happens. I never question his effort, his heart, his ability to pitching in any game," Girardi said.

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i feel it for him on being on a losing team and then trying to hard to win but no matter how hard you try it doesnt work out for you.

 

its tough and he just needs to go out there and pitch and the success will come up way better than his first three starts this season.

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