This week, I chatted with Orioles speedster Nate McLouth, just before his t-shirt night on July 9. We talked about his improvement on the basepaths, the ultra-competitive American League East, where he enjoys going on the road to, and 80's pop music.
Q: Whenever this team goes through losing stretches, it seems like you're able to bounce back before it goes on for too long. Is that what makes this team so successful?
NM: Yeah, it helps. There's going to be rough stretches throughout the course of the season, and the way you can respond to them and the quicker you can end it, the better chances you have.
Q: With how close your division is, is that what you expected and how important are divisional games when it is so tight?
NM: Oh yeah, that's what pretty much everyone thought it was going to be like. And it's turned out that way so far. So they're definitely important because they're basically two-game swings every game.
Q: You already have the most steals (24) you've ever had in a single season. Do you feel like that's something you've improved on or you've just gotten better opportunities?
NM: A little bit of both, just picking some good spots to run in and Manny [Machado] taking pitches for me to run. With a lot of good hitters behind me, I have to pick my spots carefully.
Q: Was that something you worked at more in the off-season, or do you feel like you've always been solid on the basepaths?
NM: No, I've always been, percentage-wise I've been pretty good. I've just taken more opportunities this year.
Q: How good has this lineup been top-to-bottom and is that what you expected this year?
NM: Yeah, we've been pretty good. We've got pretty good balance from the top to the bottom with some different guys with some power, some speed. Some guys can do different things, and it's been pretty good so far.
Q: When Chris Davis had that walk-off hit against the Red Sox a couple of weeks ago, you picked him up just like he did to you last season. Is that something you had been wanting to do?
NM: It was kind of just a spur of the moment thing and I didn't get him too far off the ground though.
Q: Was he as heavy as you expected?
NM: Yeah, he was like a ton of bricks.
Q: How fun is to celebrate all the walk-off wins with this team?
NM: Yeah, those are fun moments and obviously big wins. So everybody's excited after games like that.
Q: Where is your favorite place to play?
NM: I enjoy Chicago a lot. In the summer, it's a real nice city and you get to go there in the American League or National League, so that's probably one of my favorites.
Q: Who was your favorite baseball player when you were growing up?
NM: I grew up a Tigers fan and I really liked Alan Trammell and Kirk Gibson back on those teams. And then as I got older and after they were done playing, I really liked Ken Griffey Jr.
Q: Your walk-up song is "Kyrie" by Mr. Mister. Are you a big fan of 80's music?
NM: Yeah, yeah, I do like 80's music and that's one of my favorites.
Q: Are they your favorite band or do you like another one more?
NM: I like a lot of bands. I like Journey a lot. They're obviously pretty big time, they're pretty famous. I like a lot of things. I like Heart, Pat Benatar, I like a lot of 80's music.