Oswalt reflects as milestones mount

Oswalt reflects as milestones mount

ATLANTA -- Striking out the opposing pitcher is not a big deal when you've struck out as many batters as Roy Oswalt has for as long as he has.

Thus, it's not surprising when Oswalt said he was a little surprised at the fuss over his sixth-inning strikeout of opposing pitcher Bronson Arroyo on Thursday.

Obviously, it wasn't a case of whiffing Arroyo, a career .126 hitter, who has K'd 149 times in 395 at-bats. It turned out, the strikeout, the final out of the fourth inning and his sixth of seven on the night, was the 1,500th of Oswalt's career.

"I didn't even know I was close to that," Oswalt said. "I don't keep up with that stuff too much. It's nice to know you've been around the game for a little while."

Pitching in his 10th season at the elite level that he's pitched -- there's hardly a category in which Oswalt is not in the top 10 in Astros history.

But as he continues to move up the lists, even he can help but be impressed by the names he passes on Houston's all-time pitching lists. On the strikeouts list alone this season, Oswalt has already passed legends Larry Dierker, whom he passed on April 17 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and J.R. Richard (coincidentally signed by the same scout, James Farrar), his next time out, on April 23 against the Pirates.

Being in such distinguished company is not lost on Oswalt.

"It's pretty nice," said Oswalt. "Coming up, your main goal is just to get up here and do well and stick with a club and give them a chance to win a World Series. You get later in your career when you don't think about numbers too much, and then they start adding up and you realize some great names you're associated with."

There is only one man standing between Oswalt and the Astros' all-time strikeout record. That is Nolan Ryan.

"The things he's done in the game are pretty mind-boggling," said Oswalt. "After you get up here and see how great the competition is and the many years that he threw, to throw 26 years I think, is pretty amazing."

He knows that catching The Express will be a tall order -- he is 365 strikeouts behind. It's an order that will require a few more years in Houston. And that is just to catch Ryan's Astros numbers. He's hoping to get that shot, although he knows things can change, recalling that he was nearly traded back in 2004. Until then, he'll continue his pursuit of Ryan, the man whose demeanor and style he tried to emulate growing up.

"He's done a lot of good things for me," said Oswalt. "He actually helped me get into pro ball as far as coming into the Minor Leagues and Double-A.

"So if I can get up there and pass him," Oswalt quipped, "I can mess with him a little bit."