When Roy Oswalt first signed with the Rangers, the hope was that he would make up for the time lost early in this season by squeezing in a run of great pitching in his truncated timeframe.
Oswalt is definitely making up for lost time, but not in the way anyone might have hoped. Instead of squeezing a lot of good pitching into a little box, he's providing a full season's worth of drama in much less than a full season's workload.
We've had the getting yanked from the rotation drama, the inability to pitch deeper into the game as a reliever drama and the bad body language drama when he was pulled one out from qualifying a win over the weekend. And then Oswalt added a double dose to the stew on Thursday night.
The first came when he decided to hit Joe Mauer in the back with a 3-0 pitch in the top of the third inning. Oswalt naturally said after the game that it was just a pitch that got away from him because baseball's unwritten rules forbid pitchers from admitting what they're doing when they throw at hitters from the opposing team, but it doesn't take ESP to sense what a pitcher is doing when he hits the other team's best hitter in the back while obviously pitching around him with first base open.
If Oswalt were just playing the jerk, that's one thing but being a jerk in that way puts your teammates in a tough spot. Josh Hamilton almost took one in the head from Scott Diamond in the bottom half of the inning, leading to Diamond's ejection and a sigh of relief that the ball didn't end Hamilton's season.
Those with long memories will remember the days of Vicente Padilla's head-hunting and the resulting target practice on Rangers hitters. Bad blood from those days still lingers, so you have to wonder how much the Rangers appreciate Oswalt's antics from Thursday.
Or how much they appreciate another appearance of petulant Oswalt sitting in the dugout after he was removed from the game in the sixth inning. Oswalt had only thrown 77 pitches to that point and he made it pretty clear that he didn't think his work was done and even McKayla Maroney was impressed about how unimpressed Oswalt looked by the work done by reliever Michael Kirkman.
We're not always big on the idea that there are players who "fit" within a team's way of doing business because there always seems to be a rush to attribute intangible explanations to things easily explained by what happens on the field. Oswalt might be an exception, though, because he's run through a slew of incidents in a few months that the Rangers haven't experienced over the last few years.
If he were pitching well, it would be considered quirky. Since he isn't, it's just annoying.