In Friday night's series opener against the Florida Marlins, Roy Oswalt pitched four innings of no-hit baseball and looked magnificent. After allowing a solo home run to Logan Morrison to lead off the fifth inning, he still pitched well, allowing only one more run through six innings of work.
However, at the start of the seventh inning, something was wrong.
Roy Oswalt was warming up when he called over trainer Marc Andersen and manager Charlie Manuel to tell them that something was wrong. After some brief discussion, Oswalt was taken out of the game and reliever J.C. Romero was called from the bullpen to take over.
From here, the game went downhill. Romero only pitched to one batter, Logan Morrison, and allowed a single before Danys Baez took over for him, and then the nightmare began.
To start, Baez walked Gaby Sanchez, which sent him to first and Morrison to second. Next, he allowed a single to John Buck, which loaded the bases. Although Daniel Murphy popped up in the next at-bat, a pinch hitter came up to the plate and gave the Marlins the lead.
That pinch hitter was none other than Greg Dobbs, one of the Phillies' worst clutch hitters in recent memory. After the Phillies chose not to resign him this past offseason, the Marlins swooped in and signed him to a minor league contract.
The same Greg Dobbs, who more often than not failed to deliver when the Phillies needed him most, actually hit a two-run single to score Morrison and Sanchez.
The same Greg Dobbs gave the Marlins a 4-3 lead over the Phillies in the seventh inning.
The same Greg Dobbs won the game for the Marlins after neither team scored following his two-RBI single off Baez, who was given the loss.
There are two points to make here: one, that Greg Dobbs actually bothered to do something good for his team after he left the Phillies; and two, that Oswalt most likely would have won the game had he not left following his injury.
Oswalt's injury was officially diagnosed as a lower back strain and he is currently day-to-day, but he hopes to make his next start. However, Oswalt himself said that it's more a middle back injury and that he could have pitched the seventh, though he felt it was best to leave before he messed up the game himself. Ironically, it was his fill-ins who did just that.
In the past, Oswalt has spent time on the DL for lower back strains. In 2006 and 2008, Oswalt spent time on the DL due to hip and back problems, and he missed two starts in 2009 because of a lower back strain, which resulted in him being placed on the DL on September 16 of that year, causing him to miss the rest of the season.
Oswalt also said in the same interview mentioned above that he had suffered back spasms through the fifth and sixth innings and his back tightened up after he bunted a ball and ran to first in the bottom of the sixth, something he hadn't experienced before.
This calls for an obvious question: should Phillies fans be worried about their "ace of clubs"?
Since he has been on the DL many times due to back issues, could this be an addition to an already-long list of DL stints for Oswalt?
Personally, I don't think there is much to worry about. Since Oswalt has spent time on the DL for these back issues, I would like to think that he would know the severity of a back issue. Then again, there's always a chance the issue could be more than meets the eye, especially since, as previously stated, Oswalt has not had back spasms nor a "middle back strain" as he claims.
However, Oswalt does expect to move past this quickly and make his next start Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Although there is a chance that this could be a long-term issue, I believe it is slim and that this is a more precautionary move than anything else. Then again, I could be wrong.
I believe, Phillies fans, that this is minor and will quickly pass. Oswalt will start on Wednesday and that is that.
Phillies fans, do not be alarmed.