04/30/10 9:40 PM ET
Oswalt reflects as milestones mount
By Jon Cooper / Special to MLB.com
Thus, it's not surprising when Oswalt said he was a little surprised at the fuss over his sixth-inning strikeout of opposing pitcher Bronson Arroyo on Thursday.
Obviously, it wasn't a case of whiffing Arroyo, a career .126 hitter, who has K'd 149 times in 395 at-bats. It turned out, the strikeout, the final out of the fourth inning and his sixth of seven on the night, was the 1,500th of Oswalt's career.
"I didn't even know I was close to that," Oswalt said. "I don't keep up with that stuff too much. It's nice to know you've been around the game for a little while."
Pitching in his 10th season at the elite level that he's pitched -- there's hardly a category in which Oswalt is not in the top 10 in Astros history.
But as he continues to move up the lists, even he can help but be impressed by the names he passes on Houston's all-time pitching lists. On the strikeouts list alone this season, Oswalt has already passed legends Larry Dierker, whom he passed on April 17 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and J.R. Richard (coincidentally signed by the same scout, James Farrar), his next time out, on April 23 against the Pirates.
Being in such distinguished company is not lost on Oswalt.
"It's pretty nice," said Oswalt. "Coming up, your main goal is just to get up here and do well and stick with a club and give them a chance to win a World Series. You get later in your career when you don't think about numbers too much, and then they start adding up and you realize some great names you're associated with."
There is only one man standing between Oswalt and the Astros' all-time strikeout record. That is Nolan Ryan.
"The things he's done in the game are pretty mind-boggling," said Oswalt. "After you get up here and see how great the competition is and the many years that he threw, to throw 26 years I think, is pretty amazing."
He knows that catching The Express will be a tall order -- he is 365 strikeouts behind. It's an order that will require a few more years in Houston. And that is just to catch Ryan's Astros numbers. He's hoping to get that shot, although he knows things can change, recalling that he was nearly traded back in 2004. Until then, he'll continue his pursuit of Ryan, the man whose demeanor and style he tried to emulate growing up.
"He's done a lot of good things for me," said Oswalt. "He actually helped me get into pro ball as far as coming into the Minor Leagues and Double-A.
"So if I can get up there and pass him," Oswalt quipped, "I can mess with him a little bit."
Wandy, Myers swap weekend outings
ATLANTA -- The Astros knew they wanted to start Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers in the first two games of their weekend series with the Braves.
They still will, just on different days.
Rodriguez, who was scratched from his scheduled start for the opener of the series, tested his back during stretching and then played catch on Friday and was deemed fit to start Saturday afternoon.
Myers, originally scheduled to start on Saturday, jumped at the opportunity to start on Friday.
"[Myers] is on regular rest, so it's not going to bother him," said Astros Manager Brad Mills. "He was champing at the bit. As soon as he found out about Wandy yesterday, he came in and said, 'Hey, I want to pitch.' That's what you want from a guy, too. That's Brett. He wants to compete, he wants to be on the mound. It really wasn't a tough choice when we had to move Wandy back to have Brett fit in in that slot."
The temporary nature of the setback is good news for Rodriguez and the Astros, as Rodriguez is 1-2 with a 3.65 ERA in four starts and has gotten stronger over his past two starts, pitching to a 1.88 ERA (three earned runs in 14 1/3 innings). He wasn't bad in his first two starts, either, but Houston was shut out in those games. Then, in his third start, a seven-inning no-decision against Chicago, the offense awakened, scoring runs in the eighth, ninth and tenth innings. He was pulled after seven.
While Rodriguez has a career 2-1 record with a 4.89 ERA against Atlanta, Turner Field hasn't exactly been kind to him, as he is 0-1 with an 8.40 ERA (14 earned runs in 15 innings) in four games, including three starts.
Myers was 4-9 with four no-decisions lifetime against Atlanta, with a 4.52 ERA and was 3-3 (one no-decision), with a 5.25 ERA (28 earned runs in 48 inning) at Turner Field entering Friday night.
Berkman out of starting lineup to rest groin
ATLANTA -- An already frustrating season for Lance Berkman has taken another vexing -- albeit apparently temporary -- twist. Actually, it was called more of a tweak.
Regardless of what you want to call it, the result was Berkman being out of the starting lineup in Friday night's series opener against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
The play looked perfectly innocent and happened in the eighth inning of Thursday night's 4-2 loss to Cincinnati.
"That last at-bat [Thursday] night, as he was running to first, he kind of tweaked a groin a little bit," explained Houston Manager Brad Mills. "It's on the same side as he hurt his knee."
Berkman missed the first 12 games of the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on March 13. Houston stumbled to a 3-9 start without him, but had gone 5-4 in the nine games since his return.
While Berkman's bat was missed on at team that was hitting only .241 (13th in the National League) entering Friday's action, Mills felt that the night off might actually come at a good time for Berkman, who had hit in seven of the nine games he'd played and had a six-game hitting streak snapped by Cincinnati Thursday night.
"Since he's been back ,he hasn't had a day off from his knee," said Mills. "With tomorrow being an afternoon game and an afternoon game on Sunday, we just felt the smart thing to do was to give him tonight off and hopefully he'll be ready to go tomorrow."
Geoff Blum got the start at first base and batted fifth. Blum singled and scored as part of Houston's two-run second inning.
Jon Cooper is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.