Oswalt, Ethier share NL's weekly honors
Astros starter, Dodgers outfielder recognized for performance
Baseball season has entered the September home stretch, and the Dodgers and Astros both find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt with three weeks to go. Los Angeles largely has Andre Ethier to thank, while Roy Oswalt has been the catalyst for Houston's ascent toward the top of the Wild Card race. The two men were named National League Co-Players of the Week on Monday.
It was only 10 days ago that the Dodgers were all but done in the NL West. They trailed the D-Backs by 4 1/2 games and had lost a season-high eight straight. But things quickly turned around, and Ethier was a main reason.
The 26-year-old helped the Dodgers go on an eight-game winning streak and grab sole possession of the NL West lead. He led the league with a .650 (13-for-20) batting average, a 1.200 slugging percentage, a .741 on-base percentage and 10 runs scored last week. Ethier also recorded two doubles, a triple, two home runs and eight RBIs.
The right fielder chose to play his best baseball when the Dodgers needed him most. Facing the D-backs on Sept. 5, Ethier posted a 5-for-5, five-RBI game, which included two doubles and a home run. Los Angeles won that game, 7-0, and went on to sweep Arizona to grab first place in the division.
"Ethier has killed us," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said.
While Ethier did his damage at the plate, Oswalt dominated on the mound to help his team climb to within six games of the Brewers in the Wild Card standings.
Oswalt led the NL with 17 innings pitched and tied for first with a 2-0 record, a 0.00 ERA and one shutout last week. First he stymied the Cubs, who have one of the best offenses in baseball, giving up just four hits and striking out three in 8 1/3 innings.
But that proved to be just the appetizer.
Oswalt bordered on brilliance in his next start against the Rockies on Saturday. He tossed the first one-hit shutout and 14th complete game of his career. Colorado's only hit was a slow chopper up the middle by Brad Hawpe in the fifth. By the ninth, Oswalt was still hitting 95 mph with his fastball, and he struck out Hawpe and Garrett Atkins to end the game.
"He was as good as I've seen pitch in this ballpark since I've been here in '97," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said of Oswalt, who became the first pitcher to throw a one-hitter at Coors Field since Florida's Pat Rapp did so in 1995. "It was the most complete outing I've witnessed, including our pitchers."
Even Oswalt, who threw 70 of his 102 pitches for strikes, couldn't believe how easily he blew through the Rockies' lineup.
"I looked up once and I saw 69 or 68 [pitches] in the sixth or seventh -- it might have been seventh -- and I was thinking, 'Man, I threw more pitches than that,'" he said. "I had some quick innings, some ground balls. [I] wasn't trying to strike a lot of guys out, just trying to throw the ball down in the zone and get some ground balls."
This marks the second career weekly award for both Ethier and Oswalt. Ethier previously won on July 9, 2006, and Oswalt was honored on June 27, 2004.
"Those are the things you look back on when you retire," Oswalt said. "They're nice to get, it shows people notice what you're doing."
Jeff Birnbaum is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.