Dontrelle Willis can’t pitch the Florida Marlins into the playoffs, but he can increase his chances of winning his first Cy Young Award when he faces the Atlanta Braves in the season finale for both teams.
Willis is also trying to end his season on a positive after he was hit hard in an 11-1 loss to Washington on Tuesday, allowing a career-high nine runs— four unearned—and nine hits in four innings.
“I didn’t do anything right,” Willis said. “It’s a terrible feeling.”
Willis declined to blame his defense, which committed three errors, or the distraction of the Cy Young race.
“I definitely wasn’t thinking about that going out there,” he said. “It wasn’t any added pressure. Bottom line is I didn’t get it done.”
Nationals manager Frank Robinson said he still thinks Willis deserves the award.
“I said it before the game; I’ll say it after,” Robinson said. “He’s a tough customer.”
The Braves, having clinched their 14th straight division title, are trying to enter the postseason rested and healthy.
Horacio Ramirez starts Sunday’s finale for Atlanta.
Seeking his first win since Aug. 31—a 5-3 victory over the Nationals—the left-hander is winless in his last five starts.
Against Colorado on Monday, he allowed three runs and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings, but didn’t figure in the Braves’ 6-5 defeat.
Ramirez, 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in five September starts, needs a strong performance to make the postseason roster.
“He thinks (too much),” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. “For me, he gives the hitters way too much credit. You know, you have the ball, you’re the one who makes things happen.”