The Texas Rangers are confident Roy Oswalt is ready to pitch in the major leagues after a break of more than eight months, and he feels the same way.
There may not have been a better time for his first outing given the opponent.
Oswalt will look to continue his dominance of the sputtering Colorado Rockies when he makes his Rangers debut Friday night in Arlington.
Texas signed Oswalt on May 29 and he made four starts in the minors, the last coming Sunday for Triple-A Round Rock. The right-hander didn't sign with another team in the offseason and turned down other offers after the season began.
He made his last start for Philadelphia in Game 4 of the NL division series - a loss to St. Louis on Oct. 5.
"He's ready to go," manager Ron Washington told the team's official website. "That's what we brought him for, to bring him to the big leagues, and he's ready. We challenge him now."
Oswalt said he's excited to make his first start for Texas after rebuilding his arm strength during his minor league starts.
"Every player looks forward to the competition. You miss that," said Oswalt, who posted a 5.87 ERA in his stint in the minors. "I'm looking forward to it. I'm hoping to help get this team back in the playoffs and push them through the last game."
Oswalt's history against Colorado suggests he'll get off to a good start. He's 8-2 with a 1.94 ERA in 12 starts versus the Rockies, marking his best ERA against any of the 16 teams he's faced more than three times.
The AL West-leading Rangers (43-27) have won six straight after Wednesday's 4-2 victory over San Diego, improving to a major league-best 12-3 in interleague play.
They'll face a Rockies team coming off a rare victory.
Colorado (26-42) won for only the second time in 14 games by beating Philadelphia 4-1 on Thursday. Catcher Wilin Rosario homered for the second straight day and has 11 to lead all rookies. He's hitting .368 over his last five games.
"Rosario had another good game and a big at-bat,' manager Jim Tracy said. "We have a chance to have a special player on our hands.'
Carlos Gonzalez, who is hitting .400 over his last nine games despite going 0 for 4 on Thursday, is 0 for 6 with three strikeouts versus Oswalt.
"He's a pretty smart pitcher who's got really good stuff," Gonzalez said. "We just need to see what he's got and just be patient and see what he's gonna (pitch) to us."
Tracy switched to a four-man rotation and has been limiting his starters to 75 pitches since Tuesday, and he didn't hesitate to remove Jeff Francis after five innings and 76 pitches Wednesday.
"No, and the reason why is if we're going to find out about this, we have to continue to do it,' Tracy said.
Christian Friedrich (4-3, 5.60 ERA) is next up to test Tracy's unorthodox method.
The left-hander hasn't thrown fewer than 93 pitches this season, tossing 98 in losing each of his last two starts. Friedrich allowed nine runs in four innings of a home loss to the Los Angeles Angels on June 10, then gave up two earned runs in five innings in Saturday's 4-1 defeat at Detroit.
Though the rookie is 1-2 with a 12.60 ERA in three starts at Coors Field, he's 3-1 with a 2.10 ERA in five road outings.
Texas has outscored opponents 54-26 while going 9-1 in its last 10 games.
The Associated Press News Service
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