Oswalt Shines in Starting Debut

added 6/2/2001 by Darrell Pittman

Roy Oswalt, in his first major league start (coincidentally before a national TV audience) held the Dodgers to just one run on two hits over his six innings of work.  As if to celebrate, Oswalt hit a double to right in his first official major league at-bat in the fifth inning.  In his previous plate appearance in the third, he sac-bunted Brad Ausmus to third base, from where Craig Biggio drove Ausmus in with an RBI single to right field for the Astros' second run.  They drew first blood in the first inning when Jeff Bagwell grounded out to short, driving in Biggio from third.

The bullpen contingent of Jay Powell, Mike Jackson, and Billy Wagner combined to hold the Dodgers scoreless over the remaining three innings, giving up just three hits, while the Astros infield ponied up with two double plays in support of the relievers. Wagner pitched a one-two-three ninth to earn his 13th save of the season, fanning Mark Grudzielanek to end the game.

The only run that Oswalt gave up was a two-out solo homer to Adrian Beltre in the fifth.

While the big-bombing offense the Astros displayed last night was in abeyance, they showed that they could learn to live on small ball: singles, sacrifices, and stolen bases.

I got a chuckle in the ninth, when L.A. sent in Tim Bogar to pinch-hit for Tom Goodwin.  Don't get me wrong, I like Bogar and think he's a nice guy, but sending him in to hit against Billy the Kid seemed a particularly ridiculous exercise in futility.  It was like sending up a Sopwith Camel against an F-15.  To his credit, Bogar actually did make contact, sending a fly ball to center that was easily handled by Glen Barker.  It just goes to show you either how desperate the Dodgers had become at that point, or that they had just given up.

I was somewhat puzzled why Larry Dierker pulled Oswalt from the game after the sixth inning, after he had done so well and gotten into no real trouble.  My fiancee Susan pointed out to me when I got home that it had been some time since Oswalt's last start, and Dierker likely didn't want to strain his rookie phenom's arm.  It makes sense to me now.

Today was "Kids' Opening Day" at Enron Field.  Several kids were chosen for different jobs, like announcing batters, being cameraman, serving popcorn, etc.  In this same spirit, I am turning over the keyboard to my two sons, Barrett (12) and Matthew (10), who were with me at the game, so they can add their observations.

Barrett's take:

Today I am going to tell you about the Minute Maid Squeeze Play. I think The Minute Maid Squeeze Play's entrance is pretty cool, being shaped like a huge baseball player.  Once you step between the legs of this 15' person  you see a shop to the left but keep on walkin'.  You step into a fenced off area, just outside the building and above you is a tent protected you from the sun's heat.  You've made it to the Minute Maid Squeeze Play.

First thing I did was go to the batting section, except for one thing.  Instead of hitting balls you hit water that shoots in short bursts from the plastic plate below.  Next I went to the pitching section which instead of  throwing the ball you shoot it from a giant slingshot, aiming for a hole in a 20' catcher.  Now I'll be turning it over to my brother Matt.

Matthew's take:

Today I really thought that scoring the game with my Dad was fun. We got there really late , we got there after the national anthem so we did not get the line up so we just wrote them down as they came up to bat. It was hard, I had to keep looking on my dad's paper. Then the game started. Roy Oswalt did pretty good for his first time. In the seventh inning my dad had to go to the bathroom so he asked me to score the game and he would copy it when he got back. He said i did a fine job.

Before we got our tickets a man walked up to me with his little boy and gave me a upper deck section 417 row 1 seat 2 ticket! my dad signed my brother and I for the "Astros Buddies Club" were we got to do and or get cool stuff like today when we got to the right field entrance we went to a table to get a Astros buddies hat and water jug. And concludes my part back to you dad!

Dad's take:

Upon reading Barrett's comments about the 20-foot-tall catcher in the Minute Maid Squeeze Play, the thought strikes me that perhaps before his next outing, Jose Lima should warm up there.  No doubt, it will build up his confidence having such a large target, and large strike zone, to aim for.

The seventh-inning story that Matt tells is true.  I had to go and Matt already had his own scorebook going.  I copied the half-inning I missed from his scorebook when I got back, and he had done a great job.

I'm really proud of my two sons for being willing and eager to have their writings published on the web. I think they both did a great job.

Barrett gave the impression that he spent all his time at the Squeeze Play, though in truth it was only a couple of innings.  Both my sons show every sign of becoming very knowledgeable baseball fans, and are well on their way.

Send this story to a friend