Orioles left fielder Nate McLouth is a big fan of '80s pop music, and he's continued to use Mr. Mister's "Kyrie" as his walk-up song all season. Not your typical choice among major league players. I doubt if many of his teammates are borrowing his iPod.
Mired in an 0-for-17 slump, McLouth decided to make a change tonight, going with Journey's "Separate Ways."
Maybe it sounds silly to think that a new tune will influence an at-bat, but McLouth lined a single into left field leading off the bottom of the first inning.
Who's laughing now?
Manny Machado singled and Chris Davis walked to load the bases with no outs, and Adam Jones grounded into a 6-5 force to score McLouth and give the Orioles a quick 1-0 lead. Davis and Jones executed a double steal, and Matt Wieters followed with a sacrifice fly to increase the margin.
Rays right fielder Jason Bourgeois hit his first home run with two outs in the top of the second to reduce the Orioles' lead to 2-1. It's the ninth homer surrendered by Wei-Yin Chen in 96 2/3 innings, and the third in his last two starts.
Meanwhile, McLouth's taste in music should be welcomed with open arms.
See what I did there?
McLouth also was 1-for-26 before the single. Bad at-bats or bad luck?
"A little bit of both," he said earlier today. "It's never really one thing when you're struggling. It's been a rough week or so for me. A combination of getting some pretty good pitches made on me, swinging at some pitches I shouldn't be. But for me, when I'm swinging out of the zone and swinging at balls, it's always a byproduct of something else. My timing or some other breakdown. You have to just ride it out. You can't panic.
"I'm frustrated, but I can't let my frustration affect my at-bat. Sure, it's frustrating, but just like with the team, you come out tonight and don't let what happened last night or the last week affect when you step in the box tonight."
McLouth didn't show up early for extra work or take a few more swings indoors. He didn't adjust his normal routine.
"I try not to," he said. "Some guys, if they're struggling, maybe take extra BP or do some extra work in the cage. I feel like I have a pretty good routine that I've gotten into. And for me, if I'm doing it when I'm doing well, why would I change it when I'm doing bad? You know what I mean? Because it's what's gotten me to feeling good. And when I start feeling bad for a little while, you just have to understand that it happens.
"It stinks and it's not fun, but it happens. Just stay consistent with your work and just know that it will change at some point."
It changed tonight, along with his walk-up music.
As I was interviewing McLouth at his locker this afternoon, I mentioned how I heard "Separate Ways" on my drive to Camden Yards. I knew it was one of his favorites, and I joked that one of us was going to have a good night. His eyes widened and a smile creased his face.
Apparently, not every routine needs to stay the same.
McLouth also toyed with the idea of using Cutting Crew's "Died In Your Arms," but the Orioles are on another journey this season, one that they hope will lead to a second consecutive playoff berth.
You definitely saw what I did there.
Update: Adam Jones hit his 26th home run leading off the bottom of the third to increase the lead to 3-1.
Jones' ball traveled an estimated 446 feet to center field. Crushed it.
Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson threw three consecutive fastballs to Jones, the last 90 mph. And it disappeared into the night.
Jones has four homers off Hellickson in 40 career at-bats.
Sean Rodriguez led off the top of the fourth with his third home run - and the second tonight allowed by Chen. The Orioles lead 3-2.