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After Strasburg exits early with injury, Ramos walk-off hit lifts Nats over Braves

After Strasburg exits early with injury, Ramos walk-off hit lifts Nats over Braves

Postgame analysis of the Nats 5-4 extra-inning win over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night at Nationals Park.

How it happened: There aren’t many moments over the course of a season where an in-game development transcends a walk-off victory. For the Nationals, Wednesday’s tilt against the Braves provided that moment — in the worst of ways.

Stephen Strasburg, who made his return start following a disabled-list stint, was removed from the game in the third inning after suffering an apparent arm injury. The 28-year-old right hander was seen grimacing after throwing a 92-mph fastball high and outside, drawing attention of the Nats’ medical staff before he was taken out.

In what was supposed to be the beginning of Strasburg’s three-week ramp up period before the postseason, fans left Nats Park Wednesday night wondering if they’ll see him pitch again in 2016.

As for the game itself, the the two clubs scored a run apiece over the first five innings before the Braves broke the tie in the sixth on a Tyler Flowers RBI groundout. An inning later, Atlanta padded its lead thanks to Dansby Swanson solo shot, his second home run in as many days.

But the Nats battled back late, leveling the game in the seventh on a two-RBI single by Daniel Murphy, and doing so again in the 10th thanks to an RBI single by Anthony Rendon to make it 4-4. The breakthrough finally happened in the 11th when Wilson Ramos hit a game-ending single to complete the Nats’ sweep of the Braves.

What it means: The win raises the Nats’ record to 82-57. And though the Mets won in Cincinnati, Washington's magic number to clinch the division falls to 15.  

What’s next for Strasburg? At this moment, not much is known about Strasburg’s latest injury. But when he was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 22 with elbow soreness, it had marked the first time he suffered an arm-related setback since his Tommy John surgery in 2010. He said at the time of the injury that he was having issues recovering between starts since the All-Star break, but that he wasn’t bothered during his outings. Time will tell if the current issue is related to the previous one, but it’s not farfetched to think there could be some correlation. If it’s as bad as it looked on replay, the Nats’ rotation just took a serious blow. Stay tuned.

Giolito’s velocity issues continue: After Sean Burnett finished off the third inning immediately following Strasburg’s departure, Dusty Baker leaned on Lucas Giolito to serve as his long man. The 22-year-old threw 3 1/3 frames of two-run ball, not allowing the game to get away before the late innings. However, the most glaring thing about his outing was his fastball velocity remained down. He was consistently in the low-90s — a far cry from the the heater pundits were raving about during his minor league career. At what point should the Nats be concerned that the 2012 first-rounder isn’t displaying the type of stuff at the major-league level that they thought he would?

Murphy keeping it 100: With his seventh-inning single, Daniel Murphy notched RBIs No. 99 and 100, yet another offensive milestone in his breakout first season with the Nats. It seems the only question with Murphy these days if if he’ll be able to put together a strong enough September to strengthen his NL MVP case.

Up next: The Nats will begin the first of a four-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. Washington will send A.J. Cole (1-1, 3.86 ERA) to the mound, who will be opposed by Alec Asher (0-0, 0.00 ERA).

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?


Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.


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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine


Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player was booked Friday on charges involving the possession, transport and sale of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and concluding with his second stint with the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.


He also played one season for the Washington Nationals in 2005 — the team's inaugural season in D.C. after the franchise changed from the Montreal Expos. During his one season in Washington, Loaiza finished with a 12-10 record adn a 3.77 ERA over 34 games played that year.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment. He was being held Monday for lack of $200,000 bail pending a court appearance on Wednesday.

Loaiza's agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had no information about the arrest and that he has not spoken to Loaiza recently. He said that Loaiza had called his office early last week but Boggs was unavailable at the time.

"I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation," Boggs said in a text to the newspaper. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's difficult to even comment on it."

Officers stopped Loaiza for a minor traffic infraction Friday after he left the home he started renting recently in the Pacific coast community of Imperial Beach, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities had the vehicle under surveillance on suspicion it was used for smuggling drugs.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to conceal contraband, authorities said. That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.

The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery.

Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and was married for two years to the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She filed for divorce shortly before she died in a plane crash in 2012.

The 43-year-old Rivera was known as the "Diva de la Banda" and died as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, sold more than 15 million records, and moved into acting and reality television.

Loaiza sued the aircraft's owners in 2014 for wrongful death but her relatives accused him of trying to profit from her death. He denied the accusations and later retracted his lawsuit.

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.