This must be pretty exciting for Nate McLouth. Batting .140 and let go by the Pittsburgh Pirates in late May, now he’s batting .279 and leading off for the Orioles and tonight getting mobbed by his teammates after a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth provided a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay.
“This is neat,” McLouth said. “Almost daily you can kind of sense and feel the excitement growing. The crowds, it’s almost like a college football crowd to to be honest with you. It’s been neat to experience.”
“Chris Davis kind of threw me around like a rag doll. I got beat up pretty good, but that felt good. It was a special moment.”
McLouth lined a shot down the right-field line to score Manny Machado and end the game.
“It was hooking pretty hard and I wasn’t sure it would stay fair,” McLouth said. “When it hit the wall I was blocked out but I saw the umpire signal fair.”
That touched off the celebration as McLouth went 2-for-5 and the Orioles improved to 80-62.
Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez struggled early on, giving up two runs in the first three innings, but went three more scoreless after that.
“I think throwing my split-finger fastball helped me come down with my fastball,” Gonzalez said. “I was up (in the zone) in the beginning. Didn’t have my best stuff, but throwing that split-finger fastball helped me. Just needed to stay within myself. Throughout the game, I got better.”
Gonzalez said he was in the clubhouse when the game ended and he found himself jumping up and down at the excitement of the latest O’s win.
The Orioles have been watching his innings carefully. He’s at 130 this year between the majors and Triple-A after throwing 130 combined the last two seasons.
“Holding up good,” Gonzalez said. “Can’t complain. They are taking it easy on me. They said I might not start every fifth day, but I think they know what they’re doing. Keep pitching when I get the opportunity.”
The Orioles improved to 26-7 in one run games. McLouth said the team is growing confident that someone, anyone, will make a big play to win the close games.
“Yeah, because there are so many contributors and there have been so many people step up,” McLouth said. “There were plenty of guys that did big things tonight. There were plenty of big performances tonight to go around.”