WASHINGTON – Not until he saw the shoes did reality sink in.
Over the previous 24 hours, Roy Oswalt had blessed a trade from his longtime team, said goodbye to his longtime teammates, and hopped a flight from Houston to the nation’s capital to begin the next chapter in his career. But it wasn’t until he slipped on his new uniform and looked down at his cleats that he finally took pause.
“The red shoes, actually, were the thing that looked so different,” Oswalt said last night after making his Phillies debut in an 8-1 loss to the Nationals. “I’m used to the black shoes.”
There are a lot of things that Oswalt is used to that changed when the Phillies acquired him for a three-player package fronted by 27-year-old lefthander J.A. Happ. Even after the Astros defeated the Brewers behind Happ’s six scoreless innings and the Phillies fell to the Nationals behind their new starter, Houston still had 13 fewer victories and nonexistent playoff hopes.
Oswalt, who at 32 has a slew of top-5 Cy Young finishes, has gone from playing out the string for a rebuilding team to joining a high-priced rotation that the Phillies hope will help them catch either the Braves in the NL East or the Giants in the wild-card standings.
After last night, they are 3 1/2 games back in the first pursuit, and at least two games back in the second.
The first pitch Oswalt threw in his new uniform ended up streaking through the alley in right-centerfield for a leadoff triple that left Nyjer Morgan standing at third. The Nationals took a 1-0 lead on a groundout by Adam Kennedy, then added two runs in the third and two in the fifth to seize a 5-0 lead.