Adam LaRoche's three-run home run and 2 for 3 game against the New York Mets last night in the nation's capital gave the 34-year-old Washington Nationals' first baseman seven home runs and a .254/.351/.588 line through 18 games and 74 plate appearances in September.
On the year, in his fourth campaign with the Nats, LaRoche now has a .258/.362/.459 line with 19 doubles and 26 HRs in 136 games and 572 plate appearances, over which he's been worth +1.5 fWAR.
Two of LaRoche's last three home runs have come off Mets' right-hander Bartolo Colon, who served up a 1-0 fastball in the the fifth inning last night that didn't quite make it inside to the left-handed hitting middle-of-the-order bat.
"The last two times he's seen Bartolo he's hit a homer," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the Nationals' 4-2 win.
"So he's been seeing him good. We got into a situation where we had a couple of guys on and he delivered."
Williams said LaRoche's success in those situations is a result of his approach at the plate and his unflappable demeanor.
"He doesn't panic," Williams said. "He understands the situation, doesn't get too big and too violent in those situations.
"He just put a nice swing on the baseball. It's not going to happen like that all the time where he hits a homer, but like we've talked about I don't know how many times this year, if he stays in the middle of the field, those things happen for him. So he hit a ball by the third baseman tonight, staying on it, and he got one up and kind of out, over, that he hit for the homer, so the measure for Adam is the ball back through the middle and the ball to left-center. If he's doing that then he's right on."
After a rough .159/.238/.227 month of July, LaRoche has hit six of his 19 doubles and 13 of his 26 HRs in 47 games between August 1st and last night, with a .242/.352/.515 line over the last two months.
While he's had some up and down stretches throughout the season, Williams said LaRoche's ability to hit the ball back up the middle and the other way has allowed him to produce even when he's not hitting them out.
"Streaky with regard to homers is probably everybody," the one-time major league slugger explained.
"With the exception of some great years by guys, those homers don't come very often, but when they do they come in bunches. And that's the same with Adam. [Ian Desmond] is the same way. All hitters really are the same way, so you hit 25 or 26 or 30 balls out of the ballpark, what do you do in-between? That's the key for him. So if he can continue to produce RBIs for us then he doesn't have those valleys. Which is good, so he's been like that all year."
Will the run LaRoche is on with the Nationals this year be his last in a Nationals uniform?
The 2-year/$24M deal the 11-year veteran signed with the Nats in January of 2013 includes a $15M option for 2015 or a $2M buyout and LaRoche told reporters, including NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman, that he doesn't think he's going to be back in Washington next season.
"'If you had to ask me now,'" LaRoche said, while noting he tries not to think about it, "'I would assume that I would have to move on, unfortunately.'"
Matt Williams, in an MLB Network Radio interview this morning, was asked about the fact that LaRoche's future was a topic of discussion while the second postseason run in three years is just days away.
"Well, somebody asks him a question, he's going to answer it," Williams said. "It's not for him to decide whether that's appropriate or not, he just answered the question. It doesn't bother us. Nothing bothers the clubhouse or any of that.
All of that will be looked at and certainly evaluated and dealt with after the season is over with completely, but hey, if somebody asks him a question, he's going to give them an answer, nobody has got a problem with that."
• LaRoche has crushed Mets' pitching this season, with a .327/.484/.796 line, five doubles and six home runs in 14 games and 64 PAs against New York. He gets another shot at the Nats' NL East rivals tonight.
Here's the Nats' lineup for the second game of three with the Mets in D.C.: