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Nats power past Phillies 9-1: Postgame analysis

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Nats power past Phillies 9-1: Postgame analysis

By Cam Ellis 

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 9-1 win over Phillies in the opening game of their weekend series: 

How it happened: Michael A. Taylor, the Nats' leadoff hitter, crushed a 1-0 pitch into left field and the team was off to the races. Four batters later, Jayson Werth, up with the bases loaded, laced a three-run double into left center, advancing to third on an errant throw. Danny Espinosa followed that up with an RBI single, and before the Phillies had a single at-bat, they were down 5-0. Starter Joe Ross was sharp, pitching 7.2 scoreless innings while allowing three hits, walking two and striking out five. Espinosa would tally another RBI in the 5th, Bryce Harper homered again in the 6th and the Nats moved to a franchise-best 8-1. 

What it means: Well, a win's never a bad thing. Granted, they were playing the Phillies - a team in the middle of rebuilding and expected to lose close to 100 games again this year. Nonetheless, picking up divisional wins always means a little more, and with the Mets and maybe even the Marlins expected to stay competitive for most of the season, it's always important to pick up wins against the lesser teams in the division. 

Joe Ross impresses, again: Who says that the backend of the rotation has to be a weakness? Joe Ross, the Nationals 5th starter, has looked anything but so far this year. After going seven strong in his season debut last week, Ross followed that up with another quality start on Friday night. Although Ross had his sinker working, it was the slider he did the most damage with - getting four of his five strikeouts with the pitch. Ross got stronger as the game went on, particularly in the middle innings when he got through the 5th, 6th and 7th innings on 24 pitches. The pedigree and talent at the top of the Nats' rotation is well documented, but if Ross - a first-round draft pick himself - can continue to pitch like this, watch out. 

Ah, the memories: It's been a slow start to the season for Jayson Werth. Through eight games this year, the outfielder is hitting .185/.313/.370 with a .683 OPS. Manager Dusty Baker even gave Werth a day off the other day to try and give him a "reset" of sorts. Whether it was the day off or the nostalgia of being back in Philly, a city where he played at an all-star level for four years, Werth put together his best game this season. Hitting in the six-hole, Werth went 2-5 with two doubles and three RBI. He put some good swings on the ball, and even his outs were hard hit. Werth's best game at the plate coinciding with the Nationals' highest offensive output of the season is no coincidence. 

Wait, what?: It doesn't mean anything, but here's a fun fact from last night. Last night, Bryce Harper had three hits in four at-bats, including a home run. He only saw six pitches between all four at-bats. 

Jackie Robinson Day: April 15th is MLB's annual Jackie Robinson Day, a celebration of the hall-of-famer most known for breaking baseball's color barrier. Everyone on the field last night was wearing his number, 42, which is simultaneously cool to see and wildly confusing from a player identification standpoint. 

Up next: The Nats and Phillies are back in action again tonight at 7:05. It'll be an intriguing matchup on the mound as Nationals $200 million man Max Scherzer goes up against Phillies top pitching prospect, Aaron Nola. 

RELATED: Harper, Ross help Nats top Phillies 9-1 for record start

 

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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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