Kyle Schwarber's crazy home run hot streak continued on Monday night when the former Indiana star ripped two more home runs in the Washington Nationals' 8-4 win over the New York Mets.
Schwarber's run though June is hitting historic landmarks. He has hit 15 homers in a 17-game stretch, something that's been done only twice before in Major League Baseball history. The only two others to do it are Sammy Sosa (1998) and Barry Bonds (2001), and their home run barrages have something of a stain on them from the steroid era.
Schwarber, who played college baseball at Indiana from 2011 to 2014 and led the Hoosiers to the College World Series in 2013, is taking all of this in stride, trying to keep things simple in every at bat.
"It's definitely something you want to remember, but too be honest with you, I want to play stupid,” Schwarber said. “That’s kind of the best way to describe it – just keep going up there and take your at-bat. Don’t remember the one before, just live in the present. I think that’s the biggest thing, is just go out there and have a short memory.”
Washington manager Dave Martinez moved Schwarber to the leadoff spot earlier in the month, and the move has paid dividends. The Nationals, who were in last place in the National League at the time of the move, are 13-3 since the move, and are now in second place, just three games behind the Mets.
On Monday night, Schwarber homered again in the first inning and added another blast while leading off the fifth inning. He now has 24 home runs on the season, including 15 in June. He broke the Nationals' record – Bryce Harper hit 13 in May of 2015 – for the most home runs in a month.
“I’m not going up there trying to hit home runs,” Schwarber said. “But whenever you can start the game off there with a [home] run and then add one later, it’s definitely a good feeling. I wouldn’t say that I haven’t felt locked in before, but the home runs, sure, that’s definitely been a little surprise. But I just want to keep doing the consistent work day in and day out.”
Schwarber's 24 homers are good for fourth in the majors in home runs, just two behind leaders Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays and Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels. His six leadoff homers are the most in baseball this season.
“Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Martinez said of Schwarber’s power streak. When things weren’t going our way, I always preached to them, ‘Hey, we’ll get back to where we need to be, and we’ll start winning games consistently,’ Just continue to play hard. Do the little things, and now we’re starting to win games, and it’s been fun.”
Schwarber is frustrating the daylights out of opposing pitchers, because he's hitting everything that's coming his way, no matter the pitch or the location.
“We tried everything,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas. “We were pitching him in, away, down, up. We were bouncing balls. This guy's swinging a hot bat. He hasn't just done it against us. We're watching highlights of him doing it against other teams, too."
Schwarber was the fourth-overall pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2014 and he spent six years with the Cubs, helping them win a World Series title in 2016, their first in 108 years. He tied a major-league record earlier this month by hitting five home runs over a two-game period.
The Cubs released him in the offseason, and the Nationals signed him to a one-year, $10 million contract. It's turned out to be money well spent.
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