Some thoughts on Sunday's MLB games and other stuff ...
It's getting more and more difficult to paint a positive outlook for the Nationals, other than it's still early June. Nate Karns started Sunday, exposing the team's lack of rotation depth, as the Braves won 6-3 to take the series. The lineup on Sunday included three guys batting under .160 and two others with an OBP below .300. Jonah Keri has more in this week's The 30 on what has ailed the Nats so far.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers -- and their highest-in-baseball $216 million payroll -- rolled out a lineup on Sunday that included Nick Punto hitting cleanup, Juan Uribe batting second, Scott Van Slyke in the cleanup spot, Tim Federowicz hitting fifth, Luis Cruz seventh and Skip Schumaker eighth. My lord, $216 million just doesn't buy what it used. Yes, injuries (catcher A.J. Ellis went on the DL prior to the game.) Still embarrassing. If that wasn't bad enough, starter Matt Magill walked nine batters. Yes, the Dodgers lost to the Rockies 7-2. And it could have been worse. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Magill was the first pitcher in MLB history to walk nine guys and allow four home runs. Your 2013 Dodgers, everyone!
Good win for the Pirates over the Reds after getting shut out in the first two games of the series. Garrett Jones became just the second hitter to reach the Allegheny River on the fly (Houston's Daryle Ward did in 2002) with this game-tying home run in the eighth (I like how the announcer seemed to hesitate on whether it was going to be a home run) and then the Pirates won it in the bottom of the 11th. Dusty Baker was critical of Reds starter Mat Latos after the game. "He threw the ball well, but he hit that wall again," Baker said. "He's got to get over that wall and get past the 90-100 pitch mark. He's bigger and stronger than that. That's quite a few victories that got away from him." Latos left after 94 pitches. Baker pulled Latos after the Pirates scored a run in the sixth, the rally consisting of an infield hit, a walk and an Andrew McCutchen base hit. Latos' average allowed by pitch count: 1-25 (.176), 26-50 (.156), 51-75 (.254), 76-100 (.343), 101+ (.714). Generally speaking, all pitchers see a rise, but Latos' numbers are pretty extreme. It should be noted that this was not the case last year, as Latos allowed a .235 average on pitches 76-100 and .128 on 101+. So the question: Is Baker right or is this merely small sample size results?
After getting hit his first two starts, Orioles rookie Kevin Gausman had much better results in Sunday's 4-2 win over the Tigers, allowing one run in six innings. The Orioles rallied in the seventh and eighth -- Chris Davis hit his MLB-leading 20th home run -- so Gausman didn't get the win but he was happy to pitch well in his home debut. "I felt comfortable today," he said. "I thought today was the most polished and most calm since I've been up here. Obviously, it was fun and I made my debut here today so that was something I'll never forget." I'd still like to see the Orioles make a deal for another starting pitcher.
Domonic Brown was good again with a homer, triple and four RBIs in a 7-5 win over the Brewers and now has eight home runs in his past nine games and leads the with 16. ESPN Stats & Info points out that Brown is hitting .350 with six home runs off pitches "up" in the zone, compared to .200 with his one home run in his career prior to 2013. What's interesting about Brown's production is that he's done it while being more aggressive -- his walk is down (he's hitting .282 versus .235 last year, but his OBP remains level) but that obviously helped him attack pitches with better results. At 25, maybe he just figured out what works for him; he's looking like a good example of why you don't give up on a kid with talent.