WASHINGTON -- Kyle Schwarber has said the Home Run Derby is not on his radar. Even so, he has been hitting in games like he’s taking batting practice for it.
Schwarber walloped three homers in the Nationals’ 5-2 win over the Mets on Sunday at Nationals Park, bringing his total to nine in 11 games since being moved into the leadoff spot -- a decision made by manager Dave Martinez to boost Schwarber and the Nats' lineup.
“I’m a big believer in that hitting is a feeling,” Schwarber said after Washington picked up its ninth win in 12 games. “Don’t get me wrong -- there’s mechanics, there’s approach, things like that. But when you step in the box and everything feels right, you’ve already got a big advantage. It’s just a matter of trusting everything else, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Schwarber, who signed with Washington this offseason, became only the third player in team history (2005-present) to record a three-homer game and the first since Anthony Rendon on April 30, 2017, against the Mets. Schwarber is also just the second player in Nationals history with three homers in a single game as a leadoff hitter, joining Alfonso Soriano (April 21, 2006).
Schwarber's power surge made more history than that: His five homers over his past two games tied an MLB record. It's a feat that has been accomplished several times, most recently by White Sox first baseman José Abreu in 2020, but Schwarber is just the second player in Nationals franchise history to do it after Bryce Harper in 2015.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know what’s going on,” Schwarber said. “Like I’ve said before, I think the consistent work in the cage has been a big thing. And I think overall just being comfortable at the plate, I think that’s a big contributor. I’m not going up there just trying to hit home runs. … There’s a little bit of luck involved, but [I’m] happy to get the job done and happy to get the win at the end of the day.”
Schwarber led off Sunday’s victory with a Statcast-projected 418-foot home run to center field off Mets starter Taijuan Walker, who described the pitch as a “lazy fastball.” Facing Walker again in the fifth, Schwarber sent a 374-foot line drive to right field off a sinker, which Walker was surprised he got to above the zone.
"When you're swinging the bat like that, that feeling is there's nothing they can throw that will fool you,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “You're going to take some nasty pitches, and he did that today. … He's just been swinging a really hot bat. He's going through a special time."
Schwarber concluded his afternoon with a 379-foot shot to left-center against Jeurys Familia, his 18th of the season. He was replaced by fan favorite Gerardo Parra in the eighth because of lingering right knee soreness, which he has been able to play through. Schwarber went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and three runs scored, earning a curtain call after his third homer.
"I think you just tip your cap,” said Mets outfielder Kevin Pillar. “He single-handedly beat us today. Sometimes you roll into a place, whether it's at home or on the road, and you just run into an extremely hot hitter. It was really impressive to see what he's able to do.”
Martinez has been pleased by how Schwarber has been slowing down his at-bats, letting the ball travel and making solid contact on foul balls. Schwarber wrapped up the Nationals’ homestand slashing .342/.395/1.053 with nine homers, 16 RBIs, 10 runs and four walks.
“It’s been amazing to watch, fun to watch, and he’s lifted up his team tremendously,” Martinez said.