Roy Oswalt proved me absolutely wrong, well for at least tonight.
Oswalt's performance during the last year or so has suggested he has already peaked, which isn't too surprising since he's 31. I wrote that there were some startling trends over the last few years with his strikeouts decreasing and hits allowed increasing. Here's the full breakdown of my thoughts on Oswalt.
But back to what actually happened tonight. Oswalt went seven strong innings, only giving up a handful of hits in Houston's 2-1 win.
In the past, Oswalt has always shown the ability to go late into games. To do that, a pitcher must have the ability to use multiple pitches effectively during different at-bats.
The first time through the lineup, Oswalt pounded the first couple of batters in each inning with fastballs and curveballs. Towards the end of the frame, he strayed away from those pitches, unleashing his repertoire of sliders, sinkers, and changeups.
The second time through the lineup he reversed his approach. He stayed away from first pitch fastballs and attacked with changeups and sliders.
In the fifth and six innings, Oswalt goes back to the curveball and complements it with fastballs and sliders.
When you can go through a lineup with three distinct approaches effectively, you are going to be very tough to beat.
Oswalt did prove me right, however, when he lacked the ability to strike any Phillies out. He recorded just four strikeouts and two came against the opposing pitcher Kyle Kendrick.
Most pitchers who only record two strikeouts against the legitimate part of the lineup are going to have a lot of trouble. This includes Roy Oswalt on most nights. Oswalt's stuff is very nasty to say the least, but when 24 of 26 hitters are putting the ball in play, odds are on most nights those balls are going to consistently fall for basehits.
What's disheartening for the Phillies is they wasted a superb start from Kyle Kendrick. The young righty actually outpitched Oswalt in pretty much every way, except for the scoreboard.
Kendrick was one middle-in sinker to Michael Bourn away from throwing an absolute gem. Bourn took the pitch in his wheelhouse down the right field line, clearing the outfield fence by A LOT. Who thought Bourn could hit a ball that far, but then again, Kendrick couldn't have put that pitch in a better spot for Bourn to go deep. Click the link for video of the homer.
Phillies fans got to know Houston reliever Wesley Wright very quickly. The rookie left hander came in to face the 2-3-4 hitters of the Phillies lineup.
He retired them before those watching at home could figure out where this guy came from. He struck out Pedro Feliz, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard to quell the Phillies best opportunity in the late innings to score.
Here's something you probably didn't know about Wesley Wright. His real name is Dequam LaWesley Wright. I think shortening his name to Wesley was probably a good PR move.
Utley went 1-4 with a double. Howard finally got a hit, but he's still in Kevin Stocker territory with his .189 batting average. J.C. Romero and Ryan Madson threw scoreless innings in relief.
Doug Brocail picked up the save. Yes, Doug Brocail picked up the save. I'll repeat it again. 41 year old Doug Brocail picked up the save.
Jimmy Rollins pinch hit for Carlos Ruiz and singled in his only at-bat in the ninth inning. So Taguchi pinch ran for Rollins.