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Scherzer gets win No. 20 as Nats beat Marlins to close regular season

Scherzer gets win No. 20 as Nats beat Marlins to close regular season

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 10-7 win over the Miami Marlins on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.

How it happened: Before we break down the Nats' victory over the Miami Marlins in the final game of the 2016 regular season, let's first get the most important information out of the way, the only thing that truly matters for Washington as they prepare to take on the Dodgers this week in the NL Division Series. 

Nobody got hurt.

Yes, the team that lately has had all sorts of bad luck in the injury department made it through their final, meaningless game unscathed. The banged-up Daniel Murphy pinch-hit, Max Scherzer took a tumble sliding into second base and Stephen Drew got hit by a pitch. Deep breaths were taken, but nobody got hurt.

It wasn't pretty, but Scherzer did get his 20th win. He struggled at times with five earned runs allowed, his most since June 24. But he had his best game ever at the plate with two hits and four RBI. The latter is a new record for Nationals pitchers and gave him a career-high of 12 on the season.

Danny Espinosa added two more runs on his 24th homer in the fifth inning. Jose Lobaton brought in one on a sacrifice fly and Wilmer Difo scored another on a fielder's choice groundball.

Trea Turner knocked in their ninth run on a single in the bottom of the eighth. And Ben Revere followed that with an RBI single of his own to give them 10 runs, the 14th time the Nats reached double digits this season.

Scherzer began his day with three scoreless frames before allowing a pair of homers and an RBI triple. The homers, by Destin Hood and Tomas Tellis, were the first of their careers. The triple was by All-Star Christian Yelich. Those were part of a season-high nine hits allowed by Scherzer.

The Marlins got two more runs off Reynaldo Lopez in the eighth inning. Telis smacked a two-RBI single to right field with the bases loaded.

Mark Melancon got through the ninth to earn his 47th save of the season. It was his 17th since joining the Nats in a trade in late July.

The Nationals bookended their regular season with two straight wins. They went 17-12 in their final month.

What it means: The Nats finished with a 95-67 overall record, third-best in team history. Next stop: the playoffs.

[RELATED: Nats showcase international talent in awards press conference]

Scherzer's final start: With the regular season over, Scherzer's case for the 2016 Cy Young award has come to a close. Though he did get his 20th win, some of his other numbers moved in the wrong direction. Scherzer saw his season ERA rise to 2.96, his WHIP go to 0.97 and his homers allowed move to a career-high 31. The ERA is what will likely hurt him the most. He went from sixth among NL starters to ninth.

His 20th win, though, does put him in some exclusive company in franchise history. He's the first right-hander in Nats/Expos history to win 20 and just the third pitcher overall. Gio Gonzalez won 21 in 2012 and Ross Grimsley won 20 in 1978.

Harper gets a double: Before Harper landed a double to lead off the bottom of the fifth, he had struck out in eight of his nine at-bats since returning from his jammed left thumb. It was encouraging to see the reigning MVP get an extra-base hit, especially given it was to opposite field. Harper finished his 2016 season with a .243 batting average after hitting .330 in 2015.

Espinosa hits No. 24: Espinosa smoked a 93 mile per hour fastball from Austin Brice for his homer in the bottom of the fifth. That gave Espinosa 24 on the year, which matches his combined total from the last three seasons. That's a good sign for Espinosa, who will certainly be looking for better results this postseason than he's had in the past. Through seven playoff games and 23 total plate appearances, Espinosa has just one hit. He wasn't a regular in 2014, but now will be counted on heavily to produce given all the injuries around him in the Nats' lineup.

Up next: The Nats take four days off before starting their second season, the playoffs. Game 1 will be on Friday with Scherzer set to square off with another former Cy Young winner in Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

[RELATED: Dusty Baker already preparing Nats rookies for pressure of playoffs]


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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.