Notebook: Nate McLouth boosts Orioles with speed at top of lineup

Relievers usually don't throw regular side sessions because they're on call daily, but Patton said he wanted to start after struggling with command of his fastball.

In the eighth inning of Thursday night's win over the Washington Nationals, Nate McLouth broke his bat and hit a pop fly into shallow right field that fell between second baseman Danny Espinosa and right fielder Roger Bernadina.


McLouth rounded first base and sprinted to second without hesitation, reaching safely for a one-out double. He scored one batter later on third baseman Manny Machado's double down the left field line to give the Orioles an insurance run in their 2-0 win at Camden Yards.

It's the type of play that McLouth has made at the top of the lineup all season.


After Friday's 7-5 win over the Detroit Tigers, the left fielder has the highest batting average (.297) and on-base percentage (.376) of his career, and he ranks second in the American League with 17 stolen bases, more than any Orioles player had for the entire 2012 season.

With a lineup regularly featuring four .300 hitters behind him, though, McLouth realizes his role.

"You can't be stupid," McLouth said. "With the guys coming up behind me, it would be foolish for me to make an out on the bases doing something like that. At the same time, you've got to be aggressive. With a lead, you're able push the envelope a little bit."

McLouth has been caught stealing just once in 18 attempts, and his success rate (94.4 percent) is the second-best in the American League behind the Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar, who is 10-for-10 this season.

As a team, the Orioles are tied for the lead in the AL and are tied for second in the majors with 41 steals. Last season, they had just 58 for the entire year — last in the AL. This season, they've been successful on 84 percent of their stolen-base attempts. Last season, the Orioles were successful 67 percent of the time, led by center fielder Adam Jones' 16 steals.

"I can't tell you it's something we went into spring training saying, 'We're going to do this and we're going to do that,' " Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I did not like the stolen-base percentage we had last year. … We're going to get thrown out some, but we spent a lot of time talking about when it is in our favor and when it is not."

Machado (.331 batting average, 25 doubles), right fielder Nick Markakis (.307), Jones (.319, 11 home runs) and first baseman Chris Davis (.356, 19 home runs, 50 RBIs) give McLouth a good chance of being on the move if he reaches base. He just knows he has to pick his spots.

"We steal at a high percentage, and I think that that's important," McLouth said. "If you're going to steal bases and you're going to get thrown out 30, 35 percent of the time, it's kind of pointless. Why am I going to get thrown out when I have Manny and Nick and all these guys coming up behind me?"


Triple Crown battle

After Friday's game, Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera has a career .384 batting average against the Orioles, tied for the second-highest mark against any team he has faced in at least 39 games. He hit his 14th career home run against them Friday, a two-run shot off starter Miguel Gonzalez in the first inning, giving him 38 RBIs against the Orioles in his career.

"He's just a splendid hitter," Showalter said. "His name always comes up in the conversation when you're discussing the best hitters in the game. He's got a chance to do more in the game as we presently see it. If he stays healthy, what he's going to look like when it's all said and done is going to be remarkable."

Cabrera leads the major leagues in RBIs, while Davis leads the majors in home runs. Cabrera is first in the AL in batting average and Davis is second.

Patton hopes repetition pays off

Left-hander Troy Patton, who had allowed earned runs in five of his six relief outings before holding the Tigers scoreless in two-thirds of an inning Friday, has started throwing bullpen sessions in hopes the repetitions can help refine his mechanics.


Relievers usually don't throw regular side sessions because they're on call daily, but Patton said he wanted to start after struggling with command of his fastball.

"I'm just trying to get back to what made me good," Patton said. "I really just wanted to work on duplicating mechanics because my misses haven't been smaller than last year. Aim small, miss small. My misses have been much more dramatic this season."

Patton, who excelled as a left-handed reliever for the Orioles last season, has struggled with consistency in his outings this year.

On Tuesday night in Washington, he retired the Nationals in order on 10 pitches in the seventh inning, but allowed two runs and four hits in the eighth, including a home run by first baseman Adam LaRoche.

"I was throwing strikes," Patton said. "Two of the hits were on pitches that I thought were decent pitches. That's why you can't get too wrapped up in it. Certain things are out of control. I'm more concerned with the process right now. The process is what it should be, and now I just need to put it together for a full outing and not just stints at a time."

Around the horn


Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander, who will start Saturday, has a 7-0 career record against the Orioles with a 2.85 ERA in 11 starts. He's 5-0 with a 2.05 ERA in six starts at Camden Yards. ... Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada (Tommy John surgery) made his fourth rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk on Friday night against Buffalo. Wada went just 4 2/3 innings and allowed six runs (four earned), eight hits and two walks. ... Right-hander Pedro Strop (lower back strain) will throw a third bullpen session Saturday, then likely pitch in a simulated game or go on a minor-league rehab assignment after being re-evaluated Monday. He could also join the team on the road and rehab in Sarasota, Fla., since the team is traveling to Tampa Bay next weekend. ... Chris Dickerson made his first start since May 23 on Friday, hitting the game-winning home run while batting eighth as the designated hitter. Dickerson had been dealing with a sore wrist and was a possibility to go on the 15-day disabled list before Strop was placed on the DL Saturday, but Showalter said he is fine now. ... Showalter said he plans to keep the starting rotation in order despite Monday's off day, but it's still subject to change. ... Catcher Taylor Teagarden went 1-for-4 with one strikeout in a rehab appearance with Triple-A Norfolk on Friday.

Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.