html
Star-Telegram.com

Roy Oswalt tops Rockies in solid debut for Rangers

Posted Friday, Jun. 22, 2012

By Jeff Wilson

jwilson@star-telegram.com

ARLINGTON -- Take a bow, Roy Oswalt, the 21st sellout crowd at Rangers Ballpark was imploring Friday night.

Instead, the right-hander left his 2012 debut in a huff.

He wasn't angry that he was removed with two outs in the seventh inning. But his last pitch was part of an upsetting trend that left something to be desired and gave him a target area for improvement the next time he takes the mound.

The right-hander, though, was satisfied overall with his performance against Colorado, especially the ability to command all his pitches, and he was the winning pitcher as the Rangers won 4-1 for their seventh consecutive victory.

"If I can keep this kind of command all the way through, I'll be happy," Oswalt said. "I knew I needed to be ready to go. These guys already have a two-month jump on me. I wanted to come in, get my pitch count up and be ready to go."

Oswalt allowed nine hits in 6 2/3 innings and struck out six and walked one while throwing 110 pitches. An impressive 81 of those were strikes as he attacked from the first inning.

Adrian Beltre had a two-run homer in the first, and Mike Napoli added a solo shot in a two-run fourth as the Rangers made the most of their seven hits.

Pitching with an early lead helped Oswalt settle in and go after a Colorado lineup that entered Friday ranked first in the National League in runs scored.

"After you get a two-run cushion, you can pound the zone a lot more and try not to put too many guys on," he said. "You can pound the zone and make hits line up instead of walks and hits."

The Rockies were never lacking for base runners. They had 10 against Oswalt, but nine were stranded as he did his best work with runners on base.

He had consecutive 1-2-3 innings in the third and fourth and retired eight straight at one point. But Colorado had runners in scoring position in the other five innings with two reaching third base, but Oswalt escaped each time until the Rockies finally broke through in the seventh on a two-out double by Marco Scutaro.

Oswalt was removed from the game, leaving to a standing ovation, and he pumped his fist in the dugout after Robbie Ross got Carlos Gonzalez to end the inning and strand Scutaro.

The Scutaro hit and two others came on 0-2 counts. The Rockies had two more hits with two strikes against them. Oswalt said that needs to improve.

"I was mad because I threw an 0-2 pitch down the middle," he said of the Scutaro at-bat. "I hate giving up 0-2 hits. But I always pound the strike zone. I've faced Colorado probably 30 or 40 times in my career, so they know I pound the zone."

Manager Ron Washington said that Oswalt looked like he has in the past, and his quick pace on the mound helped keep the fielders engaged in the game.

They were busy, too, especially up the middle. Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler finished with a combined 11 assists, including seven with Oswalt in the game.

"Having Roy Oswalt is a huge shot in the arm for our team," third baseman Michael Young said. "He works extremely fast, keeps the defense involved, great tempo, and we're excited to have him."

So were the 46,694 on hand, a sellout crowd that matched the single-season club record set in the strike-shortened 1994 season. The Rangers have 48 home dates remaining, and sellout No. 22 could come this weekend.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

Looking for comments?