MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez with the news:
Willis last pitched in the Majors in 2011 with the Reds, posting a 5.00 ERA in 73.2 innings over 13 starts. It has been a long and He signed with the Phillies for the 2012 season, but he was released during spring training. Shortly thereafter, Willis signed with the Orioles on a Minor League deal. He and the O’s organization disagreed on his usage, with Willis wanting work as a starter. He suffered a forearm strain, and subsequently announced his retirement in July.
The Cubs signed Willis to a Minor League deal in January. He threw seven pitches in a spring training appearance before leaving with a shoulder injury. The club ultimately released him, allowing him to sign with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. Willis, now 31 years old, posted a 2.57 ERA in 87.2 innings over 14 starts in the independent league.
Following his phenomenal performance on Friday, Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter found another page on which to ink his name in the history books. He hit a pair of home runs in the first and second games of the Cardinals-Cubs doubleheader on Saturday, becoming the first player to hit six homers in a single series at Wrigley Field and the 28th MLB player to ever hit a home run in six straight games.
Coming out of the All-Star break, the 32-year-old infielder extended his two-game home run streak with a solo blast off of the Cubs’ Anthony Bass during the series opener on Thursday. He followed that up with three home runs in Friday’s staggering five-run, seven-RBI performance, then teed off another solo homer against Tyler Chatwood in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. Even more remarkable: He didn’t start Game 2, but subbed in for Jose Martinez in the seventh and promptly hit one deep to center field in his first at-bat of the evening.
Entering Sunday’s game, Carpenter is riding a .277/.386/.593 batting line with an NL-best 30 doubles, 25 home runs and 163 OPS+. If he collects another home run during the club’s series finale, he’ll be the first with a seven-game home run streak since former outfielder Kevin Mench did it for the Rangers in 2006. Only three players — Mench (2006), Barry Bonds (2004) and Jim Thome (2002) — carried similar streaks, while the all-time record is currently held by Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly and Dale Long, at eight consecutive games with a home run.