Standing O-swalt

Praise for Oswalt's latest start

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Sure, it's only Spring Training. And yes, the games don't count in the standings. And yes, the Braves' split-squad lineup was completely barren of any of its household names, all of whom were at their home complex at Disney playing against the Rays.

But when a pitcher performs as well as Roy Oswalt did on Saturday, he deserves a bit of appreciation. A modest crowd at Osceola County Stadium gave Oswalt a standing ovation after he blew through the Braves' lineup, striking out seven over six no-hit innings in the Astros' 15-6 victory.

"That was good," manager Cecil Cooper said. "Real good. Crisp, he located, he looked like he had everything working -- [changeup], curveball, fastball had good life. [He was] down in the strike zone. Everything was good."

Oswalt worked so quickly that he had to throw an extra 20 pitches in the bullpen after the outing so he could come close to throwing the 80 he had scheduled.

The Astros undoubtedly have pitching issues this year, but the one silver lining is Oswalt. He looks ready for the season opener on March 31, when he will face Padres ace Jake Peavy in San Diego. Saturday appeared to be little more than a tuneup.

"The fastball finally feels good coming out of my hand," Oswalt said. "I was able to spot it in and out. I kind of worked on it all day. I had a pretty good curveball."

Oswalt will try to reach 100 pitches in his next outing, then he will scale back to 85 in his final spring start before Opening Day.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.