10/24/05 5:34 PM ET
Roy Oswalt off-day interview
By / MLB.com
ROY OSWALT: It really counts this year. It would be nice to get the first win, first game at home, so we can kind of switch momentum. We played a good ballgame last night. We came up on the short end, but overall a pretty well played ballgame.
The thing I like between both teams, they play the game hard, not really any showing up or anything, it was a well played ballgame all around. We really need to win this, not to go 3 0 and kind of build momentum back to our side.
What's Weir, Mississippi like, and what there keeps you there in the off season?
OSWALT: It's a place where no one really cares what you do. You can be a ballplayer, you could be we have NFL guys that live there. We have a lot of guys that just have regular jobs that everyone is treated the same, that's the reason I like going home. I can go to a Weir football game and everyone comes up and speaks, just because they haven't seen me in awhile. They don't come up and speak to me because I was on TV the night before. That's why I like going home.
How do you feel about the idea of a pitcher putting the team on his back and carrying them in a situation like you're in?
OSWALT: You still have to have offense. Offense still has to go out and swing the bat and get you in a situation where you can go right after the guys, instead of being so fine the whole game. Hopefully if we get something started like Game 6 in St. Louis, where we had two runs early, will give me the mindset where I can go right after the guys, and play National League style ball, it will be to our advantage more than it is theirs.
The clincher in St. Louis, your teammates talked about how you just established the tone in that game, after about five at bats that you were not going to let them lose. They only needed two or three runs, that game was almost over right then. Did you sense anything different about your performance in that game that you can take into this game or was there something unique about that game?
OSWALT: The thing I noticed is in the first inning I was able to spot my fastball where I wanted to. I was able to climb the ladder up in the strike zone whenever I wanted to and get guys to swing at some balls out of the strike zone up. I had good velocity that night and was able to sink the ball in and run the ball away from them, they couldn't really sit on just one pitch the whole night. I didn't throw a lot of breaking pitches, but had a real good two seamer, they didn't know if it was going to sink or run away with them.
The last three or four weeks every time you pitched people have asked you if this is the biggest game you've ever had. Is this game tomorrow, is this any more important than the ones that got you here?
OSWALT: It's the biggest game tomorrow on TV, for sure. So like I say, if we can get something going early, it gives me a lot more of a groove. I think coming back to our park where it's taking the DH out of the role of American League style ball and getting the pitcher involved we can do a few more things than they can do offensively. And also on the double switches and not letting the guy, just because his at bat is coming up, a lot of times you have to come in with a pinch hitter, and you play National ball the way it's supposed to be played.
You mentioned when you can go after guys, does your strategy change if you're tied, ahead or behind?
OSWALT: Actually I like pitching a lot of times when it's close to put the pressure on both guys, put pressure on me, and put the pressure on Garland. And it doesn't really matter if it's close or not, but when you do get a two or three run lead you can be more aggressive in the strike zone, you don't have to throw so many pitches in the corner or make them swing at pitches in the strike zone, and you can get to the 8th or 9th inning with less pitches. It can work to your advantage and work at a disadvantage sometimes when you have a close ballgame. Some guys tend to leave a pitch up here and there and that can decide the ballgame 2 1, 3 2, whatever. When you have more of a cushion, two or three run lead, you can be more aggressive, make them swing at pitches, rather than making it be fine, and make them swing at pitches out of the strike zone.
Everyone knows you like to set a rapid pace on the mound, and the White Sox players are talking about finding ways to break your rhythm. If those do those kind of things bother you at all when you're out there?
OSWALT: No, most guys that slow me down gives me more rest between pitches, so it may help. I was hoping me and Buehrle would get in a match up against each other, so we could go after each other. He's a real quick worker, too. The thing about the pace of the game is when you slow it down, a lot of times you get your fielders locked up, so if they want to do that, that's fine. I like to keep a good pace of the game so that both sides are going at it all the time instead of sometimes guess lackadaisical.
Major League Baseball is talking to the Astros about whether the roof should be open or closed tomorrow night; do you have a preference?
OSWALT: Yes, I do. We've been playing with it closed all postseason, I don't see why we should close it now. It's our field and it works for our advantage with the loudness of the crowd. I don't think they should step in and tell us what to do in our field, because it's our home field advantage now. I think Chicago had their advantage there, cold, windy, they've been playing in it all year; we haven't. So let's bring it back home and give the advantage to us now.
You seem to be on an even keel outwardly, are you the same inside? Is that something you learned or you've always been that way?
OSWALT: I've always been that way. I don't get excited a whole lot unless it's something really on the line. So I know tomorrow, once the game starts, where I'll be in the first inning.
Some of your teammates feel that they see a different look in your eyes in these last few starts. Have you somehow turned it up and is that what you mean by something being on the line. Have you taken it to a different level somehow?
OSWALT: Well, you have to, once you get in the playoffs. The batters do. So you have to turn yourself up. During the season if you throw 250, 260 innings, every once in a while you don't have your best stuff. But once you get in the playoffs it's a do or die situation. You have to turn it up a notch in the playoffs, because the other guys on the other side are battling a lot more. It comes down to a few games instead of 160 games.
How much of where you are from determines the person you are and the player you are?
OSWALT: A lot. I grew up in a small town, you know everybody. And I've been told all my life that I come from too small a town to compete with some of the guys that's competed in a higher level growing up. And that kind of drove me through college and drove me through the Minor Leagues, because I got to face those Big 5A guys in the Minor Leagues. And the guys from well known colleges in the Big Leagues that's kind of followed them around in the Big Leagues. You get to face them around. And since you're from a small place, no one really cares where you're from. So it kind of drives you a little more.
A lot of people have been impressed by your ability to throw 95 mile an hour fastballs and throw a 65 mile an hour curve, to really keep hitters off balance. What was the process like of learning how to do that?
ROY OSWALT: In college I threw a curveball a little harder, I guess you'd say. After I got to Double A, after I got up to the plate and started seeing the pitch myself, I started changing a little bit in the speed difference because of trying to idle the hitters. After I saw it firsthand what it looked like to hit 95 and then 65, I knew it was pretty tough, from my standpoint, it looked like it was tough when I saw it. So I try to throw two pitches in one. I don't let them think, hey, if you see a spinning curveball coming up here, wait back, it's going to be 60 miles an hour, you have plenty of time. I can throw one that's 80.
I threw two or three in St. Louis that was 80 and come back with one that's 65. If I can keep it on the same plane going toward the plate, the speed difference is going to be so much, the first one is going 80, the next one will be 65, it's going to fall short, have more break. So it's hard to judge the speed of the ball instead of judge the spin or the break of the ball.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.