Oswalt Returns to the Express
Looking for a World Series ring
By Russ Espinoza, 11:25AM, Wed. Jun. 6, 2012
Weir (pronounced “where”), Miss.: It’s where Roy Oswalt’s been getting away from it all since his last outing on Sept. 27, 2011. The sweltering broth of simple Mississippi country life marinates Oswalt’s bare bones; but at 34, the ex-Astro ace couldn’t yet relinquish the bustle and promise of another Major League pennant race.
The first-place Texas Rangers signed the 11-year veteran right-hander and three-time All-Star to a one-year, $5 million contract last Tuesday.
Last October, Texas was twice a measly strike away from celebrating their first World Series title with a flash flood of ginger ale. Can Oswalt as add-on help deliver that final strike?
“A team can get to a World Series and maybe lack that one person to get them over the edge,” Oswalt told reporters Saturday evening. “Hopefully, I’m that one person.”
Still, the answer is perhaps no nearer than week eight of the NFL season.
Oswalt must first make three or four starts with Texas’ triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express — an organization that served as Houston’s double-A affiliate when Oswalt last pitched for the Express in 2000.
His 2012 debut on Saturday night at the Dell Diamond against Albuquerque was short-lived by design; he threw 34 pitches over two innings and held the Isotopes scoreless despite a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the first inning. He wrapped-up the frame by netting a swinging strikeout, followed by a double-play groundout to escape unscathed.
The formidable Oswalt fastball was weakened early on, but gained traction with every pitch: none of his first 11 pitches eclipsed 87 mph on the stadium’s radar, but 13 of his final 23 pitches reached 91 mph or higher — peaking at 94 mph.
The Express begin a seven-game road trip on Thursday when they’ll play the first of a four-game series against the Omaha Storm Chasers. Oswalt is in line for his next start on either Thursday or Friday night, although no official confirmation has been given as of press time.
Vs. OKC: Thu.-Sun., June 14-17, 7:05pm. Dell Diamond, 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock, 512/255-2255. $7-30. www.roundrockexpress.com.