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Nats finally get to Matt Harvey in win over Mets


Nats finally get to Matt Harvey in win over Mets

Matt Harvey has dominated his fair share of lineups throughout his brief MLB career and the Nationals are no stranger to what he's capable of. Entering Monday night Harvey had a 0.68 ERA in six starts against Washington with three earned runs allowed and 47 strikeouts across 40 innings.

Harvey had already seen the Nats twice this season and threw 13 scoreless innings combined in those outings. Many have had trouble with the Dark Knight of Gotham, but for the Nats it had been a quixotic effort.

That history would have no bearing in Monday's 7-2 win over the New York Mets, however, as the Nats struck early against Harvey to notch five runs (four earned) on the right-hander through the first three innings. Harvey would go on to pitch seven innings, but enough damage was done to set the stage for the Nats' 50th win of the 2015 season.

The Nats scored two runs in the first inning, one on a single and one on a fielder's choice. Danny Espinosa got it started with a one-out bunt single. Bryce Harper then walked on four pitches and Yunel Escobar followed with an RBI single to left field.

The second run came when Harper and Escobar took off on a pitch in the dirt from Harvey. They ran from first and second and Escobar hesitated before reaching second base to bait the Mets into a rundown. The ploy worked and it allowed Harper to score easily from third and put the Nationals up 2-0.

"Yuni staying in the rundown, that's not something that everyone would do normally," Ian Desmond said. "The majority of guys would just stop and let the guy tag him. He worked it and gave Harper enough time to score. Then we just worked Harvey's pitch count and kept on grinding on him."

"Yuni got in the rundown. He would’ve been out if he kept going," Matt Williams said. "But, heads up play from [Bob Henley] and from Harp over there at third base to recognize that once the ball was returned to the first baseman then he’s got opportunity to score."

The three runs in the third inning came thanks to a Clint Robinson double and an error by Mets third baseman Daniel Murphy. That rally began with another Espinosa single and Harper walk. Robinson then roped a double to center field one out later to score both runners.

The error came on a soft grounder by Desmond, one that forced Murphy to make a tough throw to first. The ball sailed past Mets first baseman Eric Campbell and up the right field line after it caromed off the wall. Robinson was then waved home by the umpires to make it 5-0.

Murphy made two errors on the night and Robinson pointed to those mistakes as a big reason why the Nats were able to finally crack Harvey.

"I think the defensive miscues probably hurt him a little bit because he felt like 'I gotta make a perfect pitch now because my defense is not really helping me out.' It looked like he was trying to do a little too much with some of his pitches," Robinson said.

Robinson also believes the Nationals were well-prepared to face Harvey after seeing former Cy Young-winners Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in their previous two games.

"The past couple of days with Greinke and Kershaw, I think that helped us out a little bit with Harvey. It kind of gave us a preview of what to expect from a stuff standpoint. We just went out there and executed our gameplan and you saw the results," he said.

Williams thinks the Nats benefitted from being more selective.

"I think we laid off the high fastball a little bit better. We understand that’s part of his repertoire and when he gets two strikes, he like to elevate that fastball. Harp laid off a couple. We got a couple of walks early which allowed us to get more base runners," he said.

The Nationals continue their run through some of the best pitchers in baseball with Jacob deGrom on Tuesday night. They couldn't hit Kershaw or Greinke, but they got to Harvey. Now they'll take their chances against the reigning NL Rookie of the Year.


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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.