In today’s Plate Appearance of the Day series, we focus on player of the day Dontrelle Willis.
Today’s season: 2004
Seasonal Game: 28, May 6th, 2004 – Los Angeles Dodgers visit Florida Marlins
Where They Were
The Florida Marlins were fresh off winning their second World Series Championship, and still had a lot of pieces of that club. Coming into the game, they sat at 16-11, in first place in the NL East division, 2 1/2 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves.
The Dodgers, tied for first place in the NL West Division with the San Diego Padres, boasted a 16-10 record. The two clubs would be playing the final game of a three-game set. They had split the first two.
Willis (3-0, 2.73) took the hill against a potent Dodger lineup. 2003’s NL Rookie of the Year, Willis was still only 22-years-old and already an all-star. Cesar Izturis opened with a single, and Paul Lo Duca followed with another. Willis then struck out Milton Bradley before Shawn Green hit a three-run shot to take an early lead.
With the bases cleared and one out, Willis had a real opportunity to get out of it with just the damage already caused. Instead, he allowed Adrian Beltre to single, then struck out Juan Encarnacion. Jose Hernandez followed with a single, Willis’ fifth hit allowed in the inning. Beltre moved to third.
Our Plate Appearance
Dodgers catcher David Ross approached the plate with a chance to do some real damage with runners on the corners. Ross inherited a Dodgers Win Expectancy of 77.5%, with correspondingly less leverage available to make it a truly important plate appearance.
Ross worked Willis to a 3-1 count, then smacked a grounder hard to the left side. Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell calmly collected the ball and fired to second bagger Damion Easley to force out Hernandez.
The Rest of the Game
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Willis lasted five innings, taking the loss and allowing a total of five earned runs on eight hits and a pair of walks. He struck out three, and got 58-of-98 pitches in the strike zone for a 32 GameScore. When all was said and done, the Dodgers took a 9-4 decision.
The Rest of the Season
Now at 16-12, the Marlins went 67-67 and missed out on the postseason by 13 games to the Braves. The Dodgers marched right to the NL West title, finishing two games ahead of the San Francisco Giants. Los Angeles dropped their NL Divisional Series matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals, three-games-to-one.
I select the Plate Appearance of the Day by using random.org. I select a random year from 1993 through 2018, then a random game number, usually between one and 162. That is, unless the season was in a strike year or a season in which the Miami or Florida Marlins made the postseason. Then I select a number between one and the final game number. After that, I count up the plate appearances, and select a random one. The player of the day is whoever was either pitching or hitting for the Marlins in the selected plate appearance.
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