25 things to ponder about Roy Oswalt

Posted: July 30, 2010

THE PHILLIES not only landed one of the best pitchers in baseball, they also got a player who is so country he makes Kevin Kolb look like a metrosexual.

Roy Oswalt married his high school sweetheart, comes from a Mississippi town of about 500 and once used a spark plug to cure a shoulder injury.

Here are some other things - a few that are actually relevant to the Phillies' chances this year - to know about the latest star pitcher acquired by Ruben Amaro:

1. Has an ugly 6-12 record this season, but the Astros have scored just 17 runs in his 12 losses.

2. Has gotten thumped in his last two starts, though. He took a ground ball off his left ankle in the second inning and was lifted after the fourth in a July 18 loss to the Pirates. He gave up six runs and nine hits to the Reds on Sunday.

3. Had a slight hamstring problem late in the spring, but hasn't missed a start. Finished the 2009 season on the disabled list with a lower back strain.

4. Has been extremely clutch throughout his career. In starts after July, Oswalt is an amazing 56-16 with a 2.79 ERA.

5. Helped lead the Astros to their only World Series in 2005 when he limited the Cardinals to one run in seven innings in both Games 2 and 6.

6. In addition to his League Championship Series MVP, Astros owner Drayton McLane gave Oswalt a bulldozer for his efforts against the Cardinals that year. Now that'll be tough to park in South Philly.

7. Lives on a 1,000-acre ranch just outside of his hometown of Weir, Miss., which is where the bulldozer comes in most handy.

8. Oswalt did give up five earned runs in his only World Series start, a Game 3 no-decision in which he failed to hold a 4-0 lead. The White Sox won in 14 innings and eventually swept the Astros.

9. Is 4-0 with a 2.60 ERA in his career at Citizens Bank Park. He's allowed one home run (Ryan Howard, 2005) in 27 2/3 innings pitched at the very hitter-friendly ballpark, where he last pitched in 2008 and where he registered his 100th career win on April 13, 2007.

10. Has never won a Cy Young Award, but has been in the top-5 in balloting five times in his career. His best finish was third in 2004 behind Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson.

11. Finished second in the 2001 Rookie of the Year voting to Albert Pujols.

12. Grandfather's name was Houston, the only franchise he had known until yesterday. Houston Oswalt lived on a watermelon farm, where Roy worked as kid.

13. Had gone the last three seasons without committing an error, but has made two this year.

14. Has just a .158 career batting average, but is a very good bunter.

15. His wife, Nicole, sang the National Anthem and God Bless America before Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS - one of the most significant wins in Astros history. Houston rallied from a five-run, eighth-inning deficit to beat the Braves in 18 innings on Chris Burke's series-clinching home run.

16. Had an injured arm after pitching more than 150 innings as a minor leaguer in 1999. The story goes that in the winter, while working on a pickup truck, he was shocked by an exposed spark plug and was quickly pain-free. The speculation among trainers is that ths shock dissolved scar-tissue that had built up in his arm. Instead of having Tommy John surgery, Oswalt had a Henry Ford-ectomy (rim shot).

17. He was quoted in a 2006 Sports Illustrated profile as telling his wife, "My truck done shocked the fire out of me and my arm don't hurt no more." Wait'll he gets a load of the atmosphere at Citizens Bank Park when the Mets come to town next week.

18. Was one of the surprising Team USA gold medal winners at the 2000 Olympics.

19. His high school graduating class had about 30 kids in it and the town of Weir has a population of about 500 - or roughly the number of seats in Section 145 at Citizens Bank Park.

20. Weir is in the middle of Mississippi and about 200 miles north of Kiln, Brett Favre's hometown.

21. Started arguably the most unusual no-hitter on June 11, 2003, against the Yankees. The Astros needed six pitchers to complete the no-no when Oswalt left following the first inning with a groin injury. After Oswalt, manager Jimy Williams called on Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner. Lidge, who pitched the sixth and seventh innings, was credited with the win.

22. The 2011 Opening Day could be interesting. Oswalt has started eight consecutive Opening Days, tied for most among active pitchers . . . along with Roy Halladay.

23. Has the most National League wins (143) since 2001 and trails only CC Sabathia (149) and Halladay (147) among all active pitchers.

24. Signed his current contract on his 29th birthday in 2006.

25. Was born one day before Cliff Lee in 1977. Oswalt's birthday is Aug. 29; Lee's is Aug. 30. *

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