Game 2: Oswalt vs. Arroyo Friday

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Roy Oswalt will face Bronson Arroyo and the Cincinnati Reds in Game 2 of the NLDS Friday. (Yong Kim / Staff File Photo)

As it is in every other major league ballpark, the pitchers mound at Citizens Bank Park is 60 feet, six inches from home plate.

It's just that it doesn't seem that way to Roy Oswalt, who will go against righthander Bronson Arroyo and the Cincinnati Reds Friday in Game 2 of the NL division series.

"For some reason the mound here, the way the park is set up, I feel like I'm standing next to the hitter when I'm throwing," Oswalt said Wednesday. "It doesn't feel like the regular 60 feet. It feels like I'm throwing 55 feet. You go into some ballparks and you feel like you're throwing long toss, and you go into some parks and it feels like it's a little bit shorter. This park feels like it's a little bit shorter."

For Oswalt, perception is reality. He's never lost a start in South Philly, and the numbers he's accumulated while throwing from his favorite mound are stunning - 9-0 with a 2.10 earned run average in 10 starts. Since he was acquired from Houston at the end of July, he's 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA in six home starts.

One of the few things Oswalt does better than pitch at Citizens Bank Park is pitch against the Reds, a frequent rival during his time with the Astros. He's 23-3 lifetime against Cincinnati with a 2.81 ERA, holding the Reds to a .242 batting average. He's beaten them more than any other team. Two of those losses came this season while he was with Houston. In the first, he went seven innings and allowed three runs. In the second, he got roughed up, surrendering six runs in five innings.

If Oswalt knows the reasons for his success against Cincinnati, he's understandably keeping them to himself.

"There's really now way to explain it from when I first started," he said. "A few times I actually gave up a few runs against them and my team came back and scored me a few. There really wasn't one direct thing, I guess."

The Game 2 start will be Oswalt's first in the post-season since 2005, when he was the third pitcher behind Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. Arroyo, the lone Reds starter with post-season experience, was a bit player the World Series champion Red Sox in 2004.

Arroyo has won 15 or more games each of the past three years, but he's 1-5 with a 5.54 ERA against the Phillies.

"I think it's going to be hard to top '04 for anything I do in my career again," said Arroyo, who does concerts in the off-season, singing and playing the guitar. "But as far as just getting to the playoffs and feeling that you're a bigger part of the ballclub, this is definitely sweeter for me."

Reds manager Dusty Baker set up his rotation partly to have the soft-throwing Arroyo pitch between hard-throwers Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto.

 


Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com