Nationals

Quick Links

Clayton Kershaw's performance was simply great theatre

Clayton Kershaw's performance was simply great theatre

The two greatest games I’ve ever witnessed came about four and a half years apart. In May 2012, Chris Davis threw two innings, the 16th and 17th, to beat the Boston Red Sox in Fenway park. 

Thursday night, I saw a fine closer, Kenley Jansen nearly throw three innings, only to be bailed out by arguably the best pitcher of our time, Clayton Kershaw, who retired the final two Washington Nationals to clinch the Division Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Both games featured creative moves by managers, Buck Showalter knowing that Davis had pitched in college, and Dave Roberts knowing that he had little chance to win otherwise. 

The aggressive move by Roberts could well hurt the Dodgers since they have only a day to regroup before the National League Championship Series begins. 

The Chicago Cubs look to be a very difficult out, and Los Angeles will have to be very fortunate to beat them. 

Some fans chided Showalter during and after last night’s game, saying that if only Showalter had been as aggressive as Roberts, the Orioles’ wild-card game might have had a different result. 

I’m not going to rehash that game, but there were major differences. 

The Dodgers had a lead they wanted to protect. If the Orioles had a lead, they would have brought in Zach Britton, and he certainly could have thrown two innings, perhaps more. 

The Orioles bullpen is a lot more reliable than Los Angeles’. Brad Brach, Mychal Givens and Darren O’Day were far better alternatives than any of the others that Roberts had. 

In the National League game, there are double-switches, and there were plenty of them, forcing Jansen to hit. 

And while Jansen is a fine closer (1.83 ERA and 47 saves), he’s not in Britton’s class. 

The Dodgers-Cubs series that begins on Saturday will likely have more national interest than the American League Championship Series, which starts Friday. 

It will continue to be painful for many Orioles fans to watch the Toronto Blue Jays, and those that tune in will probably root for the Cleveland Indians. 

The Orioles won five of six against the Indians this season. 

This captivating postseason, which is only 10 days old, is really just getting started, and the story has been the use of bullpens — with the Britton decision, last night’s machinations and Cleveland manager Terry Francona’s use of Andrew Miller early and often. 

The guess here is that the Blue Jays will be just too powerful and too skilled for the Indians, and that the Cubs will roll over the Dodgers. 

Perhaps the most wonderful thing about baseball’s postseason is that it’s different from any other sports’. Every NFL game is a one-off, and Super Bowl strategy isn’t any different from in the regular season. It’s just magnified. 

In the NBA, rotations may be shorter and half-court play more prevalent, but it’s the same game — only more intense. 

Anyone attending last night’s game in Washington felt the intensity and could appreciate the seeming improvisation. Before the game, Roberts ruled out an appearance by Kershaw — even for an out. 

It wasn’t a surprise when Kershaw walked out to the bullpen in the eighth inning to warm up. It was great theatre. 

For a time, the boos that accompanied the announcement that the Metro would close — which turned out to be an hour before the game finally concluded — would be the high point of the night. 

Instead, it was the game’s finest pitcher getting two final outs. 

Four hours, 32 minutes never seemed so short. 

RELATED: Nats struggle to appreciate craziness of Game 5

Quick Links

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?

RELATED: 2018 SPRING TRAINING REPORT DATES

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.

RELATED: FORMER NATS PITCHER ARRESTED WITH MORE THAN 40 POUNDS OF SUSPECTED COCAINE

Quick Links

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

screen_shot_2018-02-12_at_2.39.40_pm.png
commons

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.

RELATED: NATS REVEAL 2018 SPRING TRAINING TV SCHEDULE

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.

RELATED: WHEN PITCHERS, CATCHERS REPORT FOR SPRING TRAINING