Colorado Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio started off Orioles leadoff hitter Nate McLouth with a 91 mph four-seam fastball tonight. Then he came back with a 90 mph four-seamer. Then he threw the exact same pitch again at the same speed.
McLouth timed it just right.
McLouth delivered his second leadoff home run of the season and the 12th of his career to give the Orioles a quick 1-0 lead over the Rockies.
McLouth’s other leadoff shot came on April 30 in Seattle. His last homer this season came on Aug. 2 against the Mariners at Camden Yards.
Chris Davis moved up to third in the order tonight - he struck out in his initial at-bat - and Nick Markakis dropped to fifth.
Markakis was 8-for-13 in seven career games batting fifth before striking out to end the first inning.
“Without getting into a lot of absolutes and specifics, our guys, we want to present a certain lineup to their bullpen, too,” said manager Buck Showalter. “I don’t think we fully realize how tough our lineup is to bullpen against because of the left and right and switch-hitters and everything. We want to keep that. It’s really been a productive thing for us over the year. We’re so close to it, we don’t see it until you try to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes.
“We’re fortunate to have guys like Chris and Nick who hit left-handed pitching pretty well. Nick doesn’t care if he hits ninth, first, second, third, 12th. Yeah, he would probably have a problem with hitting 12th. But it’s just something we feel like is a good approach for today. We’ll see where it takes us.”
In his 46 major league starts before tonight, Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 36 of his starts and has allowed three runs or fewer in 13 of his 14 starts this season.
Chen threw 15 of his 20 pitches for strikes in the first inning tonight, allowing a two-out double to Troy Tulowitzki and striking out two. Chen also struck out Todd Helton and Nolan Arenado in the 1-2-3 second inning.
Brian Roberts has hit in four straight games and has recorded three straight multi-hit games, batting .500 (8-for-16). The last time Roberts recorded three consecutive multi-hit games was September 4-7, 2010, when he recorded four in a row.
J.J. Hardy has hit safely in 11 straight games since Aug. 1, batting .308 (14-for-44) with a double, four homers, seven RBIs and seven runs scored. It’s his second-longest of the season behind a 13-game streak from May 3-18.
Davis has hit in eight straight games, tying his season-best streak (also May 22-29). It’s tied for the third-longest streak of Davis’ career behind an 11-game streak from Sept. 22-Oct. 2, 2012 and a nine-game streak from July 26-Aug. 4, 2012.
Left-hander Troy Patton has gone 26 consecutive appearances without issuing a walk, the second-longest streak in club history behind Koji Uehara’s 36 games without a walk from July 19, 2010-April 15, 2011.
Since June 1, Patton has posted a 2.05 ERA in 26 1/3 innings and recorded 21 strikeouts while not surrendering a walk.
Through Tuesday’s games, the Orioles had the second-largest increase from 2012 in local TV ratings (up 47 percent) among teams on regional sports networks. The Royals had the highest increase at 65 percent.
Six Orioles will be on-site at the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) Tuesday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. to autograph copies of the 2014 Orioles Pet Calendar. Chen, Hardy, Patton, McLouth, Chris Tillman and Matt Wieters will sign calendars to raise money for BARCS.
The Orioles have raised more than $100,000 for the shelter over the last several years.
BARCS is located at 301 Stockholm Street in Baltimore.
Update: The Orioles sent seven batters to the plate in the bottom of the third inning. They scored once and loaded the bases with one out. And that was it.
Adam Jones delivered an RBI single to right field, breaking an 0-for-15 slump and increasing the Orioles’ lead to 2-0. But Markakis fouled out to the catcher and Wieters lined to second on the ninth pitch thrown by Nicasio.
Manny Machado is 2-for-2 and has 45 multi-hit games this season.
The Orioles are 7-0 when McLouth homers.