Dontrelle Willis has not pitched nearly as well as Greg Maddux this season, but the Florida Marlins ace is looking to tie for the major league lead in wins while the San Diego Padres veteran is just trying to get over .500.
Willis and Maddux will square off when the Padres visit the Marlins on Friday in the opener of a three-game set.
No pitcher in the majors has gotten better run support than Willis (5-1, 5.35 ERA), who has received 44 runs from Florida’s offense during his 37 innings. Few starters have gotten worse support than Maddux (2-2, 3.86), with San Diego scoring only 12 runs in his 30 1-3 innings.
That difference is a major reason Maddux is just hoping to win back-to-back starts for the first time this season while Willis is looking to match Boston’s Josh Beckett as the only major leaguers with six victories. No other NL pitcher has more than four wins.
Willis notched his fifth victory on Saturday as he got 10 runs of support in an 11-5 victory at Philadelphia. The left-hander allowed five runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings.
“The guys won me a victory,” said Willis, who has a 7.50 ERA in his last three outings while opponents have hit .338 against him.
Opponents are hitting .248 this season against Maddux, who beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday as he retired the last 14 batters he faced in a 3-2 victory. The 41-year-old right-hander allowed two runs and five hits with one walk in seven innings.
Maddux is giving up an NL-low 1.19 walks per nine innings.
“He’s looking for early contact, throwing strike one,” Padres closer Trevor Hoffman said. “Nobody does it better than he does as far as economics with his pitches.”
Maddux and Willis last squared off on Aug. 27, 2005, and it turned into a pitchers’ duel. Maddux, playing for the Chicago Cubs, pitched a five-hitter but lost to Willis, who went seven strong innings in Florida’s 2-1 victory.
Ten days earlier marked the last time Willis faced San Diego, and he threw a five-hitter in a 6-0 victory at Dolphin Stadium. He’s 2-1 with a 4.00 ERA in four starts versus the Padres.
Maddux is 9-7 with a 2.93 ERA in 20 career starts in Miami and has struggled in two road outings this season, going 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA.
Miguel Cabrera has gone 5-for-14 (.357) with a home run against Maddux, and has been on a tear lately for the Marlins (13-14). The All-Star third baseman has hit safely in eight straight games, batting .455 (15-for-33) with two homers and six RBIs.
Cabrera had an RBI single on Wednesday, but it was one of only four hits— matching a season low—for Florida in a 6-3 loss to the New York Mets.
That defeat prevented the Marlins from completing a three-game sweep as they settled for a split of their six-game road trip.
“You watch this team play and there is no doubt the desire is there,” Florida right fielder Joe Borchard told the team’s official Web site. “Everybody wants to get it done.”
San Diego (15-13) is coming off a series win over Washington, capped by a 7-3 victory on Wednesday as five Padres relievers combined to throw seven innings after starter Clay Hensley left with a strained groin.
San Diego’s bullpen has allowed two earned runs in its last 24 innings and is among the major league leaders with a 2.26 ERA and .182 opponent batting average.
The Padres and Marlins split six meetings in 2006, with each taking two of three on the road.
Blog Coverage from SB Nation
- Brewers-Pirates Preview
- Trumbo hits 23rd homer, has 4 RBIs as Orioles beat Pads 12-6
- HRs by McCann, Gregorius in 9th rally Yanks past Rangers 9-7
- Moore outpitches Price as Rays shut down Red Sox, 4-0
- Rizzo legs out inside-the-park HR, Cubs sweep Reds 9-2
- Altuve's 4 hits, 4 runs lead Astros over Angels 10-4