Two rough innings sink Oswalt against Red Sox
Cuddyer's hitting streak hits 23 as Rockies wrap up road trip with loss
BOSTON -- For a moment during Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Red Sox, Roy Oswalt couldn't control himself. Thirteen years in the Major Leagues grooms baseball wisdom. Wise enough to know that this wasn't his day, there was only one move left to make.
The 34-year-old lost it.
He threw his arms wildly in the air, let his body convulse as if it were a rubber eraser that has just bent and bounced off a hard surface, and let his head roll until it was hanging downward and he was staring at the ground.
Oswalt knows he's not in midseason form just yet. On top of that, the baseball gods left him hanging.
"I had an unlucky break," Oswalt said.
After allowing two runs to score through his first four batters during his second game in a Rockies uniform, Oswalt recorded the second out and made a good enough pitch to deserve the third. However, a weak ground ball off the bat of Daniel Nava had other plans, bouncing off the pitcher's mound and piloting itself straight into the second-base bag. It bounced high and left, tripped up shortstop Josh Rutledge, who was originally in position to field it, and ran away toward third base as another run scored.
It was that kind of day for Oswalt.
"He looks great," said outfielder Michael Cuddyer. "I thought life was on his fastball. He's got good offspeed stuff. He's locating it. They just got some hits today. I wouldn't really say they hit them hard, but that's baseball."
After a 1-2-3 second inning, Oswalt was roped around in the third, allowing two more runs off three singles and a walk.
Oswalt settled in as the game went on, but he allowed five runs on nine hits through six innings as the Rockies couldn't recover as fellow veteran John Lackey mowed through Colorado's lineup, tying a career high with 12 strikeouts.
Oswalt, who is being paid based on a prorated salary of $2.3 million with incentives, has allowed nine earned runs and 18 hits over his first 11 innings with the Rockies. It's not unlike the beginning to his Rangers career last season, when he allowed 15 earned runs and 35 hits over his first 17 1/3 innings before throwing a pair of productive outings. He was eventually moved to the bullpen before an aggravating split with the club, which centered around his role.
"I marked last year off," Oswalt said. "That wasn't really an opportunity."
Regardless of the outcome through two starts, Oswalt has shown signs of hope that he could be the stability in the starting rotation that the Rockies desperately need. He was again hitting the mid-90s with his fastball on Wednesday.
"I felt like both starts were actually better than what it turned out to be, but that's baseball," he said. "Maybe the next two starts I'll get some lucky breaks. The first two I had some breaks here and there that didn't go my way. But I'll keep throwing strikes, make them hit the ball and see what happens."
Oswalt just found himself on the wrong side of a two-day hit parade at Fenway Park in which there were 50 combined hits. After he threw about 80 percent fastballs in his first start last week, the Red Sox were able to pick up on his aggressive approach.
"We knew he threw a lot of strikes," Boston outfielder Shane Victorino said. "I've played behind him [with the Phillies], I've faced him through the years in Houston. I think you just got to go out there and be aggressive against him. ... We were able to do that."
The Rockies combined for 20 hits in two games, including two home runs by Cuddyer on Wednesday. Cuddyer extended his Major League-best hitting streak to 23 games, tying a club record. Hitting coach Dante Bichette accomplished the same feat in 1995.
"You go through points in the season where you feel really good," said Cuddyer, who raised his season average to .344. "Through this little streak I've also gotten lucky. I've gotten some hits in certain games, whether it's a broken bat or infield hits or something like that. Things are just going my way on top of feeling good at the plate. It's just one of those things."
The Rockies return to Colorado on Thursday for a makeup game against the Mets before starting a stretch of 16 games against National League West opponents.
A productive Oswalt could give them a big boost.
"It's very evident that there's still a lot left with him in the two outings he's had for us," manager Walt Weiss said. "There's still a lot of life in the arm, and the ability to make pitches, it's all there.
"I think he hasn't had a ton of luck in his two starts with us. Some balls have found holes and hit bags. I think he's throwing the ball well actually."