"I was there 10 years. You get accustomed to being in that organization," said Oswalt of his ties to Houston. "You don't wish anything bad on them. I hope they turn things around and get where they want to be. We built something there for five years when I first came up, and got to go to the playoffs four or five times and got to the World Series one year.
"It just seems like it kind of [got] to the top of the hill then started going down. Now they're trying to build it back up."
Indeed, Oswalt played through an eventful era in Houston, one that saw the Astros thrive thanks to contributions from such stars as Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman. Houston had a winning record in each of Oswalt's first six seasons, but he saw Biggio and Bagwell retire, then watched the unraveling of a team that had competed for the playoffs on an annual basis.
Oswalt went 6-12 with a 3.42 ERA in 20 starts for the Astros last year, but he turned around and thrived down the stretch after his trade to the Phillies. The veteran went 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 13 appearances for Philadelphia and even pitched well in the playoffs.
Oswalt, who went 143-82 with a 3.24 ERA for Houston, has finally turned the page on his tenure as an Astro. In fact, when asked if he'd take extra joy from beating Houston, Oswalt deflected the question.
"Not really," he said. "I'll try to win any time I go out there. It doesn't matter who it is."
The Astros, who have dropped the first two games of this series, were forced to shuffle their pitching staff for the series finale. Left-hander J.A. Happ had originally been scheduled to start but was shelved because of a mildly strained right oblique, an injury sustained in his final exhibition start. Bud Norris, who had been slated for Tuesday, will pop up one game early.
"I'm excited," said Norris of his mind-set for Sunday's game. "Unfortunately, J.A.'s not ready. We want to get him healthy, because we know this year we can't do it without him. Getting him some extra time is going to be huge for him, but I'm ready to go. I got my full rest. [The Phillies are] a good team, but I'm excited to get out there for my first start of the year."
Astros: Happ pushed back, will start on Tuesday
Houston will have a day off on Monday, and if Happ's health will allow, he will take the ball to start Tuesday's series opener against Cincinnati. Happ has been cleared medically, but manager Brad Mills thought he'd be better served with the extra rest. Norris learned of the change in plans on Saturday but said that he was prepared earlier in the week.
"We knew [on Tuesday] it might be a possibility, so I've kind of had it in the back of my mind," Norris said. "[Pitching coach Brad] Arnsberg and I talked and threw a light side [session] yesterday, just in case. It's here, so I'm ready to go out there and pitch."
Houston, interestingly enough, won the season series against Philadelphia in each of the last two years, and is the only National League team with a winning record (30-18) against the Phils since the start of the 2004 campaign. Houston is also the only NL team to boast a winning record at Citizens Bank Park, where it has gone 16-9 all-time.
Phillies: Sore calf leaves Victorino's status uncertain
Center fielder Shane Victorino exited Saturday night's game early with soreness in his left calf, a situation that takes on added significance considering his injury history. Victorino, Philadelphia's leadoff man, has gone on the disabled list twice because of calf ailments.
The Phillies are uncertain as to the extent of this most recent injury, and they're already somewhat banged up. Philadelphia started the season with closer Brad Lidge, outfielder Domonic Brown and second baseman Chase Utley on the DL.
Youngster John Mayberry Jr., who replaced Victorino on Saturday, has had an eventful week, making his first Opening Day roster and celebrating by driving in the game-winning run on Friday.
Despite dropping this series, the Astros have won five of their last seven and six of their last 10 in Philadelphia. ... Three of the players on Philadelphia's 25-man roster -- Victorino (2004), David Herndon (2009) and Michael Martinez (2010) -- were acquired in the Rule 5 Draft. ... No Phillies struck out in Friday's series opener, which marked just the fourth time since 2000 that they have managed that feat. ... Happ and Oswalt were both involved in last July's trade. ... Carlos Lee homered, tripled, singled and drove in all four of Houston's runs on Saturday. ... Philadelphia experienced its 138th straight sellout at home on Saturday night. That run includes postseason games. ... Roy Halladay received his NL Cy Young Award before Saturday's game.