Home > Texas Rangers > Roy Oswalt Had 2 Balks In 3 Innings Today

Roy Oswalt Had 2 Balks In 3 Innings Today

As I write this, it is the bottom of the fifth inning in Toronto with the Texas Rangers leading the Blue Jays, 2-1. Roy Oswalt has just been taken out of the game after spot-starting in the place of Ryan Dempster, which really shouldn’t have made much of a difference when you consider how both men have pitched in the AL this season.

However, Oswalt threw pretty well today. He allowed two hits, two walks and struck out five in 4.2 innings. His pitch count was a manageable 62, so I’m sure Roy is pissed that he wasn’t left in for one more batter so he could possibly leave with a chance to win.

His only misstep today was a couple of literal missteps with men on base. Oswalt was called for a balk twice after starting and stopping his motion. He had five career balks in 2,194 innings coming into Saturday.

I was a little surprised to see how many starters had recorded two balks in a game over the past 20 years, including Daniel Bard and Cole Hamels already in 2012. No Rangers starter had picked up two balks since Vicente Padilla in 2008. Bobby Witt actually balked four times in a 1988 start, which is a franchise record. The all-time record is five by Bob Shaw of the Milwaukee Braves in 1963. He should have balked once more for symmetry since he gave up six runs with six walks and six strikeouts that fateful day.

Oswalt balked once in the third and then again before he had recorded an out in the fourth. I thought balking multiple times that early in a ballgame would be somewhat novel, but no, not really. Bard balked twice in the second inning against the Royals about three months ago.

And while it’s not really related to Oswalt’s case, here is something strange: Three of the previous four Rangers — Padilla, Juan Dominguez and Paul Kilgus — and three of the last four starters from any team — Bard, Luke Hochevar and Yunesky Maya — to commit two balks in the same game did it in the same inning. I guess being whistled for flinching while on the rubber or bringing one leg too far in front of the other on a pickoff attempt gets in a pitcher’s head rather quickly.

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