One night after Philadelphia clinched its fourth straight NL East title, Oswalt looks to continue his dominant pitching - both overall and against the Washington Nationals - on Tuesday.
The Phillies (94-63) acquired Oswalt (13-13, 2.80 ERA) from Houston in a four-player trade July 29. The move bolstered a rotation that already boasted seven-time All-Star Roy Halladay(notes) and Cole Hamels(notes), the 2008 World Series and NL championship series MVP.
Oswalt, Halladay and Hamels are a combined 20-7 in 32 starts since the trade. As a team, the Phillies are 24-8 in those contests.
Halladay led them to the East title Monday, tossing a two-hitter in an 8-0 division-clinching win at Washington (67-90) to open this three-game set.
“It was fun, but it’s only going to get funner,” said Halladay, who spent 12 years with Toronto, never reaching the postseason, before signing with Philadelphia. “That’s the reason you want to come to a team like this. They know how to do it. It’s the coolest thing I’ve been a part of. It’s just the start, I think.”
Oswalt has become accustomed to following strong performances by Halladay and Hamels with one of his own.
“I’m trying to push them as much as possible and they’re doing that off me,” Oswalt said. “Anytime you feed off each other, it helps down the stretch.”
Oswalt is 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in his last nine starts. Two of those victories have come against the Nationals, as he’s yielded one run in 13 innings while striking out 15 Washington batters in those starts.
The right-hander was stellar again Wednesday, throwing seven innings and allowing only one hit in a 1-0 victory over Atlanta.
“It’s fun for me after not being in contention,” Oswalt told the Astros’ official website. “This is what baseball is.”
Washington has already clinched a third consecutive last-place finish and sixth in seven years.
Jason Marquis(notes) (2-9, 7.18) will take the mound for the Nationals, but may wish he didn’t have to. He’s lost all four of his starts against Philadelphia this year - all to Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt - compiling a 12.51 ERA in those outings.
The right-hander got pounded at Philadelphia on Sept. 17, giving up six runs, six hits and hitting a batter in one-third of an inning of a 9-1 loss to Oswalt.
Marquis pitched much better Wednesday, allowing two runs in six innings. He didn’t get a decision in a 4-3 victory over Houston.
“In Philly, I didn’t get ahead of the hitters,” Marquis said. “(Wednesday), I felt I pounded the strike zone a little more. I was consistent early in the count. I controlled the counts and was able to get some quick outs.”