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Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 8: Scherzer's second no-hitter

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Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 8: Scherzer's second no-hitter

We are counting down the 10 biggest moments of 2015 for the Nationals as we approach New Year's Day. In the third installment, we look back at Max Scherzer's second no-hitter of the season, when he shut down the New York Mets...

By the time the Nationals faced the Mets at Citi Field in the final series of the 2015 regular season, they had already come to terms with the disappointment of a year defined by what could have been. It had been over a week since they were officially eliminated from the playoffs and there was little left to play for. The Mets were coasting after locking up the division with dreams of a World Series run on their mind, while the Nats were playing out the string with the offseason on the horizon.

When Max Scherzer took the mound on Oct. 3, all that was left to play for was pride. The season would end the following day and Scherzer had already done enough to certify his first year in Washington as a success. The guy had already thrown a no-hitter, the first of his career and the second in Nationals history. He had already made the All-Star team and emerged as the leader of one of the most talented pitching staffs in baseball.

Sometimes special moments in baseball come at the most random of times, when you least expect it. That was the case for Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter in 2014 and that was certainly the case for Scherzer in his final outing of 2015.

With a cast around him that resembled a spring training lineup - including rookies Trea Turner, Michael Taylor, Clint Robinson and Wilmer Difo - Scherzer dominated the Mets for his second no-hitter of 2015. He became just the fifth player in MLB history to have two no-hitters in one regular season and capped off arguably the best year ever for a Nats pitcher.

Amazingly enough, through the first two innings that day, Scherzer was perhaps overshadowed by his counterpart, Matt Harvey, who came out on fire by striking out five of the first six batters he faced. But Scherzer was methodical as he dissected the Mets lineup, keeping his pitch count down early before gaining strength later on.

Through 5 2/3 innings, Scherzer had eight strikeouts. He hadn't allowed a hit, but had just seen his first batter reach base on a Yunel Escobar error. The chance at history was there, but no one could have predicted the tear Scherzer would go on next.

Scherzer struck out the next nine batters he faced, beginning with the final out of the sixth inning and finishing with two outs in the ninth. That left Curtis Granderson, who popped out to third base for the final out.

Scherzer's nine consecutive strikeouts set a Nationals record and fell just one short of Tom Seaver's all-time mark. He finished with 17 total strikeouts which is also a Nats' team record and tied for the most ever in a no-hitter (Nolan Ryan, 1973). Only 12 pitchers have ever reached 17 strikeouts or more in a single game without issuing a walk.

Based on Bill James' game score, Scherzer's no-hitter against the Mets was the second-greatest pitching performance of all time at 104, trailing only Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout gem of 1998 which recorded a 105. He became the first pitcher in MLB history to have three nine-inning games in one season with a game score of 97 or higher. 

Scherzer's second no-hitter didn't make up for the Nationals' missing the playoffs or losing their crown as NL East champions. It didn't make the team's 2015 season as a whole a success. But it did provide a positive moment for both the team and its fans to close out a year that most would like to forget. Despite the circumstances, Scherzer's second no-no will go down as one of the greatest games ever pitched and one of the best days in Nationals history.

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More from the countdown:

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 10: Scherzer signs

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 9: Trade deadline series vs. Mets

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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?

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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