Monday, July 9, 2012
Roy Oswalt, bullpen set up walk-off win
By David Collier
ARLINGTON, Texas -- With the Texas Rangers' second consecutive walk-off win, the credit will go to the guys that had the big hits.
Michael Young will get credit for his 4-for-6 performance and clutch game-tying single in the ninth. Ian Kinsler will get credit for his 4-for-7 night that included the walk-off hit. But what gets lost in the mix is the guys that got them there: Roy Oswalt and the Texas bullpen.
Oswalt bounced back in a big way from a disappointing start in Chicago where he gave up 11 runs -- nine earned -- off 13 hits in a blowout loss to the White Sox. On Sunday, he was the Oswalt the Rangers hoped he would be when the signed him. The right-hander exited the game one out shy of gaining a quality start, but he allowed just one run on five hits with two walks and three hits over 5 2/3 innings.
"My arm angle was a lot better tonight," Oswalt said. "The ball was creeping back. It stayed true. We'll keep working on it a little bit to get where I can go on it a little bit harder. Tonight, I didn't go as hard as I did last time. I was trying to get deeper in the ballgame, and I did. I just didn't get as deep as I wanted to go."
That's where his teammates picked him up. Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross and Mike Adams combined to allow just one hit in 2 1/3 innings before closer Joe Nathan had an extremely unconventional outing.
Nathan allowed two runs -- both unearned -- on two hits to give Minnesota a lead that looked to be pretty safe. But the Rangers' offense rallied to send the game to extra innings, and the bullpen once again came through big. Michael Kirkman got Nathan out of the jam in the ninth before experiencing a mild left quad strain while he was covering first for the first out of the 10th.
From there, two pitchers who have had plenty of struggles this year came through in the clutch. Yoshinori Tateyama allowed just a walk in 1 2/3 innings before Scott Feldman came in and picked up his third win of the season, giving up just a hit in the final two frames.
Oswalt would have loved to get the win, but he did his job in keeping the Rangers in the game. He was happy to see his teammates close it out behind him in the late innings.
"It's great," Oswalt said. "I looked out and saw the Angels had won, so it was good to keep them from creeping a little closer. It gives you a good feeling going into the break."
The wily veteran made just his fourth big league start of the season, so he's still shaking off some rust.
"I feel better and better every time I go out," he said. "I'm starting to throw a lot better. Tonight, I had a lot better command of my secondary pitches. Arm strength is coming around, and we'll see how it is after the break."
Rangers manager Ron Washington noted before Sunday's game that in the tentative pitching rotation after the All-Star break, Oswalt is slated to start the series opener at Oakland on July 17. There will be eight days between his starts, but Oswalt doesn't think the long layoff will affect him.
"I've got a guy back home that I threw with before I came," Oswalt said. "I'll probably throw a couple of bullpens when I get home and just try to stay in sync."
Oswalt knows the ins and outs of the major league game, and he knows it will take him a while to get into midseason form.
"You get up about 40 or 50 innings, and you start feeling a lot better on the mound," Oswalt said.