The last time Roy Oswalt(notes) faced the St. Louis Cardinals in the postseason, he pitched his previous team into the World Series. The next time he takes the mound at Busch Stadium, he’ll have a chance to help his current club advance.
Oswalt looks to remain undefeated as a starter in the playoffs and help the Philadelphia Phillies wrap up their NL division series against the Cardinals in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Six years ago, Oswalt allowed one run, three hits and struck out six in seven innings to help Houston to a 5-1 victory at St. Louis in Game 6 to clinch the NL pennant. After Ben Francisco’s(notes) pinch-hit three-run homer Tuesday gave Philadelphia a 3-2 win and 2-1 lead in this series, Oswalt will take the ball looking to help eliminate the Cardinals once again.
“It’s funny, six years later, I’m kind of in the same spot,” Oswalt said. “But back in St. Louis trying to move on to the next round.”
Oswalt is 5-0 with a 3.25 ERA in 10 career postseason starts, including 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three against the Cardinals. Despite what’s at stake, the 34-year-old right-hander will not approach this outing any different than the others.
“My approach is to try to set the tone early, attack hitters,” said Oswalt, who went 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts this season. “I’m not going to really do anything different. I’m not going to pitch like someone different. I’m going to pitch the way I’ve been pitching for 11 years now.
“One thing you always tell yourself as a starting pitcher is give 100 percent and that’s all you can give.”
He enters the postseason after posting a 2.61 ERA while winning two of his final three regular season starts. That stretch began Sept. 17, when he yielded five hits and struck out seven over seven scoreless innings in a 9-2 win over the Cardinals.
Albert Pujols(notes), possibly entering his last game in a St. Louis uniform with free agency looking, has hit .316 (30 for 95) with seven homers versus Oswalt including postseason meetings. Pujols and second baseman Ryan Theriot(notes) each had four hits Tuesday but the Cardinals stranded 14 baserunners.
The Cardinals will need to be more opportunistic to avoid elimination - perhaps relying on the same confidence that helped them erase a 10 1/2-game deficit to win the wild card.
“We flip the page and come back ready to play with the same energy we’ve been having the last six weeks,” Pujols said. “We’ve been in this situation before.”
Pujols is 7 for 13 in the series but has just one RBI. Theriot, 10 for 32 lifetime against Oswalt, is 6 for 9 in the last two games of the NLDS.
The Cardinals hand the ball to Edwin Jackson(notes), who has never started in postseason play but allowed one run, two hits and a walk in two innings of relief against the Phillies while with Tampa Bay in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series.
“This is not anything personal,” Jackson said of facing Philadelphia again in the playoffs. “Our objective is to go out and win. This is strictly for the Cardinals. Anything that happened back with Tampa, that was the past. I just took all the experience from it, and come out (Wednesday) and have fun.”
Jackson, who went 5-2 with a 3.62 ERA in 12 starts after the Cardinals acquired him in a three-team trade in July, allowed five runs in five innings of a 7-1 loss in his only start versus Philadelphia on July 28, 2010.
Francisco, whose homer Tuesday was his first since May 25, is 2 for 4 against Jackson.