Tale as old as time: Schwarbs HR for Lester

June 15th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- If there was a question as to whether would homer for the fourth time in as many games, the Nationals starting pitching should have been an indication.

For the 26th time in his career, Schwarber hit a home run in a game in which started (regular and postseason). The former Cubs teammates are paired up again this season, and Schwarber has gone yard in three of Lester’s nine outings with Washington.

“Trust me, I really do want to get this guy a win,” Schwarber said.

On Monday night, it was the difference-maker in the Nationals’ 3-2 victory over the Pirates. The left-handed-hitting Schwarber belted a go-ahead solo home run in the seventh inning off righty Clay Holmes. The center-field shot traveled a Statcast-projected 399 feet at 111.1 mph for his 13th homer of the season.

Since being moved into the leadoff spot on Saturday, Schwarber has gone yard in four contests, including twice Sunday against the Giants. Manager Dave Martinez believed Schwarber would benefit from seeing more fastballs and pitches in the strike zone hitting first, ahead of and , compared to his looks in the middle of the lineup.

“He never was a big chaser,” Martinez said. “I noticed that he started chasing a little bit. So now we’re just trying to get him back in the zone, and so far he’s done well up there.”

More significant to Schwarber than where he is in the order when he homers is when he homers during the game. Schwarber, who urged fans to “stay with us” on Sunday, lifted the Nationals to their fourth win in six contests. There is a total of just two games separating the Nos. 3-5 teams in the NL East.

“It’s definitely a good spot to hit them,” Schwarber said of a go-ahead situation. “It’s just the nature of the beast, of this game, that these timely hits will start just peeling off left and right.”

The home run helped the Nationals pull ahead in Lester’s sixth no-decision of the season. After throwing just 3 2/3 innings against the Rays in his last start, Lester said he felt better taking the mound vs. the Pirates. He threw 5 1/3 frames with two runs on six hits, one walks and two strikeouts.

“He had all four pitches working,” Martinez said. “His changeup was good, his curveball was good, his cutter was really sharp tonight -- it was a good pitch for him. He keeps us in the ballgame, he really does.”

Lester’s ERA over his last four starts is 2.41, but he's yet to claim his first win of the season, as the Nats have scored 11 runs in those four games.

“I’ll do something for him on that first win,” Schwarber said. “He’s pitching his butt off. You saw today, the guy pitched great. He’s going to start rolling and the offense is going to start rolling for him and hopefully give him an easy win here.”