As rumors swirl about where Roy Oswalt may soon wind up, the Astros' ace right-hander can finally bring the spotlight back onto his pitching.
Oswalt will be making the first start since the Astros admitted he had requested a trade, making national headlines as the first marquee name to hit this year's rumor mill. At 2-6 with a 2.66 ERA this season, Oswalt has received the lowest run support in the league at just over two runs per game.
Oswalt insists the attention surrounding his upcoming outing does not pose a distraction.
"I pay a guy to do the business part, I just try to play baseball," Oswalt said. "It's out of my hands. My biggest focus is trying to get us in a situation to win.
"No different than any other start."
His other starts have been pretty good, too. He has had a quality start in all nine outings this season, making him the first Houston pitcher since Roger Clemens in 2005 to do so. The last Astros pitcher to reach 10 quality starts to begin a season was Bob Knepper in 1988.
Oswalt will have to make it through a streaking Brewers lineup, anchored by the resurgence of slugging first baseman Prince Fielder. Fielder is batting .328 with five home runs and 10 RBIs in his last 20 games. He's raised his average from .234 to .275 during the span, and while the offensive production is still well off the pace of a year ago, he does appear to be getting on track.
"I don't want to put everything on one guy," Brewers manager Ken Macha said over the weekend. "I'm not going to do that. I know what I'm getting out of him as far as his intensity and everything. Everybody looks at, 'Oh, this is what the numbers are now and this is what it was last year.' I'm sure everyone would like to have that, but 141 RBIs doesn't happen every year."
With Fielder and outfielder Corey Hart (six home runs in his last 10 games) finding their stroke, Milwaukee is a tough test for any opposing pitcher. Especially one who has been struggling to get some run support for himself.
"It's a good lineup," Oswalt said. "Guys in the middle of the lineup are starting to hit and they've got a pretty good lineup."
Brewers: Setback for Davis
Pitcher Doug Davis had a recurrence of chest pain on Monday night and said he may need to miss more than 15 days on the disabled list. Davis was scratched from a start on May 16 with pericarditis, an acute chest inflammation of the lining around his heart. He has been working out and playing catch, but reported more pain while trying to sleep Monday. He's not sure when he'll be evaluated by a doctor next.
Astros: Stars return to lineup
First baseman Lance Berkman and outfielder Michael Bourn both returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing Sunday's game for different reasons. Berkman was given the day off to rest a sore back and calf; Bourn was suspended by Major League Baseball for inadvertently bumping an umpire on May 8. The two hitters combined to go 0-for-8 against the Brewers.
Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun could be out for a while with a strained right shoulder after visiting with a doctor on Tuesday. ... Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy made his Major League debut on Tuesday and went 1-for-4. ... Left-handed reliever Tim Byrdak rejoined the Astros on Tuesday after missing three weeks with a lower back injury.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.