Oswalt’s fastball lacks zip; gets popped hard

I frustrated Roy Oswalt reacts after giving up a 6th-inning grand slam. The homer kept Florida on top as they held onto a 6-5 win. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

The ball was leaving the bat extra hard tonight for the Marlins. That was mainly due to the lack of velocity in Roy Oswalt’s fastball.

Oswalt mixed in a lot more breaking pitchers this go-around. And when he was using his fastball, none of the batters Oswalt was facing were missing. Instead, they were inducing some long fly balls that either fell in the glove of his outfielders or hurt Oswalt in the long run.

It wasn’t until John Buck’s 6th inning grand slam that the hard-hit balls really damaged Oswalt’s outing and set the tone for the Marlins 6-5 win on Friday.

Oswalt was not on his good stuff, especially the good stuff that allowed him to pitch eight scoreless innings in his last start against Washington. Oswalt allowed six runs, five earned on 12 hits and a walk. He mustered only two strike outs. He three 108 pitches at that point too, wearing down the soon-to-be 34-year-old in a few days.

The pace of the game was changed when Marlins manager Jack McKeon played the odds and took out his right-handed starter with two men on in favor of a lefty to face Ryan Howard. Knowing Howard struggles with left-handers and the Marlins were also holding a 6-1 lead, this move wasn’t such a terrible idea.

Well, that is until Howard decided to treat the fans with a three-run souvenir off Michael Dunn to make it a 6-4 game in the 6th. After wasting scoring opportunities later in that inning and in the 8th, the Phils got one back in the 9th but left a man on second with only one out.

Raul Ibanez got a pinch-hit single with one out. Michael Martinez then drove in a pinch-running Cliff Lee with a double to the left-center gap to make it a 6-5 game. But Shane Victorino flew out and Placido Polanco grounded out to end the game and the Phils shot at a come back.

David Herndon helped Philly stop the bleeding when Oswalt was yanked with a runner on second. After his 1 1/3 innings of perfect ball with two strike outs, he now has pitched 13 straight scoreless innings with 11 strike outs and only one walk.

Former Phillie Greg Dobbs was a huge pest tonight. He went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, RBI and run scored.

2B: Utley (20), Mayberry (14), Martinez (4). HR: Valdez (1), Howard (27).

WP: Hensley (2-5). LP: Oswalt (6-8). S: Cishek (3).



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