ARLINGTON, Texas -- Sometimes a long layoff can be good for a pitcher. He can rest any injury concerns -- like a bothersome back, for instance -- and work on things during bullpen sessions.
But what if you don't get to throw but one bullpen session and the 12 days between starts includes nine days of not throwing off a mound? Well, you can have trouble finding a rhythm and a consistency with your mechanics. Roy Oswalt believes that's what happened to him in a rough outing Monday, the first of four games against the AL West-rival Angels.
"I need to get a more consistent arm angle," said Oswalt, who got an anti-inflammatory injection and some time off to rest a tight back and threw a bullpen session Friday and then pitched Monday. "Sometimes I'm down, sometimes I'm too far up. I can't find that spot that felt great. Not getting to throw for 11 or 12 days, sometimes that happens."
As a result, Oswalt wasn't able to keep his team in the game. He gave up three homers, tying his season high, but was still locked in a tight game through five innings. The trouble spot came in the sixth. Oswalt surrendered hits to five of the six batters he faced. The big one was a two-run home run by Kendrys Morales that gave the Angels a 5-3 lead. He ended up allowing eight runs on 11 hits and was gone after loading the bases with one out in the sixth.
"I made a bad pitch to Morales," Oswalt said. "The curveball was supposed to be in the dirt. I changed my grip and tried to throw a hard one and make it extra special, I guess you'd say, and left it over the plate."
Oswalt said on one of his other home runs, earlier in the game, he wanted to throw a pitch down and away and it ran away on him.
"That's all about arm angle," Oswalt said. "If I get my arm angle back going, I'll be fine."
Through six starts, Oswalt has a 6.49 ERA and he's allowed at least 11 hits in three of those starts. That ties his career high for one season (he did it three times in 2008). He gave up three home runs for the second time in his last four starts; he had allowed three or more homers in a game only five times in his first 341 career games.
Oswalt said his back felt fine and he's confident he can find the proper mechanics on a more consistent basis with more time. With Colby Lewis out for the season and the Rangers still looking at any starting pitching options at the trade deadline, Oswalt knows the club needs him to keep them in games and chew innings.
"I've got 11 or 12 starts to go," Oswalt said. "I should be ready to go. I think the biggest thing is time off between this start and the last one."
The Rangers need more from Oswalt down the stretch. He's slated to get his next shot Saturday in Kansas City against the Royals.