Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ghost of Babe Ruth Now Playing at Shea Stadium

By Nicholas Stix

Dontrelle Willis just hit his second home run of the game against the Mets, off Mets reliever Bert Hernandez, giving the Marlins a 5-3 lead over the Mets. He also has an RBI-single, giving him three of his team’s five runs. But Willis is the Marlins’ starter! Pitchers don’t hit home runs and run-scoring singles today! Do they?

They do, when they’re named Dontrelle.

And that swing! Willis has one of the sweetest-looking lefthanded swings you’ll ever see. I’ve seen him hit three homers against the Mets (against whom he has all of his three dingers this season), including a grand slam last season.

He was up in the eighth, with a man on first, but unlike with any other pitcher, Marlins manager Joe Girardi didn’t have Willis bunt. Heck, with any other pitcher in the eight inning, you’d have a pinch hitter in the box, but as one of the Mets announcers observed, “Willis is a throwback.”

By the way, did I mention that he’s a lefty?

Girardi had the hit-and-run on, but his old Yankees coach, Willie Randolph, guessed it in the home team dugout, and called a pitchout. Willis tried to protect his runner by reaching out to swing at the pitch, but it was too far away. Mets catcher Paul LoDuca threw a strike, and shortstop Jose Reyes tagged the runner’s pinkie, to get him.

And then Willis calmly resumed his at-bat, hitting the home run.

Later in the inning, Hanley Ramirez scored on a Bert Hernandez wild pitch to make the score 6-3, which is where it now stands, after eight.

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