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Scherzer excels, Zimmerman debuts as Nats tie Cardinals


Scherzer excels, Zimmerman debuts as Nats tie Cardinals


VIERA, Fla. (AP) -- Max Scherzer turned in another solid outing and Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI single in his spring debut as the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals played to a 4-4 tie in nine innings Sunday.

Zimmerman, bothered by plantar fasciitis in his left foot since early last season, singled during a three-run first inning off Michael Wacha. Zimmerman went 1 for 3 as the designated hitter.

Scherzer allowed one run and two hits over four innings. He walked one and hit two batters, but also struck out five in his third spring start. Manager Dusty Baker has strongly indicated Scherzer will start on opening day April 4 in Atlanta.

"It was a good outing," Scherzer said. "I attacked the zone, (got) a lot of first-pitch strikes. That was something I wanted to do today and I was able to accomplish. I just had more well-executed pitches.

"I'm slowly getting more on line of how I want to execute all my off-speed, whether it's in the zone or out of the zone, and that's what's important," he said.

Even with Zimmerman as the DH, the Nationals' lineup was a potential preview of what it could look like in the opener. Washington started off with four straight hits, including Bryce Harper's RBI double.

"We have a chance to have a good offense and really score some runs," Scherzer said. "It's going to be exciting to see those guys produce runs, because I love run support."


Cardinals: Wacha gave up three runs and six hits in two innings. He also had a walk, a balk and a wild pitch.

One of the hits, by Anthony Rendon, knocked off Wacha's glove.

"The offspeed pitches, I really couldn't throw them for strikes whenever I needed to," he said. "It doesn't really help you out when all you've got is a fastball-changeup. You can just look for those two pitches, (and) especially when they're not located well, they can get hit."

Nationals: Baker, in his first year managing the Nationals, found out something about Scherzer on Sunday -- don't try to high five him coming into the dugout.

"He just looks right through you, with one of those eyes he got," Baker said. "Somebody told me, `Hey, man, he don't do that. He don't give five when he comes in.' That's what you call learning about your players."


Cardinals: CF Tommy Pham cut his lip on a headfirst slide while stealing second. His helmet slid down and got him in the sixth inning. He left the game, but manager Mike Matheny said Pham was leaving at the end of the inning anyway. ... OF Stephen Piscotty had been scheduled to make the trip to Viera, but was held back after being hit above the left elbow in a game against the Mets on Saturday. The injury is not considered serious.

"I'm sure if this was April, he would have been playing today," Matheny said.

Nationals: CF Ben Revere was hit in the left shoulder while swinging at a third strike from St. Louis reliever Marco Gonzales. Revere remained on the ground for a few moments, but after being checked out by a team trainer, he remained in the game. Baker said Revere is expected to be in the lineup Monday.


Cardinals: Mike Leake gets the start as the Cardinals host the Minnesota Twins and Tommy Milone.

Nationals: Joe Ross will make his third spring start when Washington hosts Houston.

[RELATED: Scherzer likely to start Opening Day for Nats, as expected]

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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.