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Astros-Phillies: Roy Oswalt Gets the Job Done

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Now that’s more like it. Seven innings pitched. Four strikeouts. One run. That’s a line with which any pitcher can be proud. Especially Roy Oswalt. Especially after the start he has had to this season. And even better, not only did Roy O. pitch a fantastic game, but the Astros won the game, 2-1.

I heard somewhere that Oswalt believed he had a problem with his mechanics, and if this is so, it sure looked like he got those problems worked out. The person who hasn’t got his mechanics worked out appears to be Jose Valverde. The Chron is now reporting that Valverde was supposedly injured during the spring and couldn’t throw one of his pitches correctly, so he’s been struggling with the pitch – which seems to be how the Astros operated under Brad Lidge, blaming an injury. Not that Valverde mattered because manager Cecil Cooper, despite saying earlier in the day that he wanted to get Valverde back out on the mound as soon as possible, decided to go with Doug Brocail to close the game.

Whatever. What’s important, as far as I’m concerned, is that Oswalt pitched a fantastic game and appears to be back. And for that, I’m thankful.

But what I’m not thankful for is the vaunted offense. The Astros were able to get only four hits off of the Phillies. And Kyle Kendrick, their starter, is more known for his fake trade to Japan this spring than for his ability to completely shut down teams. Yet the Astros had to depend on the power bat of Michael Bourn to win this game. That’s right, Michael Bourn.

The Astros are supposed to get good pitching from Roy Oswalt. And when they get good pitching from Roy Oswalt, they don’t need to score a lot of runs. But they can’t depend on continuously getting good pitching from the rest of the rotation, so at some point this vaunted offense is going to have to start performing.

The Astros still sit in last place of the NL Central with a record of 6-9. Brandon Backe gets the start Thursday afternoon, and he goes up against Phillies ace Brett Myers.


As you may have noticed, I have a few problems with Carlos Lee. I don’t like his lack of hustle. I hate him out in the outfield because he never seems to be paying attention. Jose de Jesus Ortiz seems to think this is a good thing because often, instead of paying attention to the game, Lee’s joking with the fans and doing the wave, instead of, well, concentrating on doing his job.

There was some discussion on the radio about this Wednesday, and Richard Justice took the discussion over to the Chron. Justice thought that Lee should be pulled in the late innings for defensive replacements, but he didn’t think Cecil Cooper had the guts to do it; however, Cooper did pull Lee for Darin Erstad in the late innings Wednesday night. I don’t know if this is going to become a permanent thing, but if Bruce Bochy could pull Barry Bonds late in games because Bonds’ knees wouldn’t allow him to competently field the position, and if Terry Francona will pull Manny Ramirez in the late innings because he’s Manny, then this is something that Cooper really needs to do with Lee on a consistent basis.

But I’ve got to say, I’m rather surprised Lee was actually in Philadelphia for Wednesday’s game since Drayton turned MMP into a cattle barn for a livestock auction. Really, if Drayton lets Lee get out of spring training to come to Houston for a couple of days to goof off at the rodeo and attend the auctions, then why shouldn’t he let Lee split during the season to get some cattle…

******************** Jose de Jesus Ortiz wants me to be proud of the team for how they acted in the locker room following Tuesday night’s loss. They came over to support Valverde and give him encouragement. And you know what, I’m happy they’re supporting a teammate. But really, am I the only out here who is sick of this attitude among the Astros? It was the same thing with Lidge. I’d really like for some player to actually get angry about continuously losing games. Show some fire and some passion for once. Stop with this acceptance of losing.

I’m tired of this attitude, especially because of this stat I found in the Chron yesterday – and which I update slightly after Wednesday’s game. But over the past two seasons, the Astros have blown 27 of 67 save opportunities, which is far, far below the Major League average. – John Royal

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