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Washington Nationals 8-4 over New York Mets: Kyle Schwarber hits two more HRs

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The Nationals hit four solo home runs tonight, and a three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth gave them insurance after a late-game surge by the Mets.

MLB: JUN 28 Mets at Nationals Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kyle Schwarber homered for the 14th time in 17 games in the first at bat of the Nationals’ first, then hit another solo shot in the 5th, 15 in 17, for two of Washington’s four solo HRs tonight off New York Mets’ starter Jerad Eickhoff.

The leadoff blast was Schwarber’s sixth over 17 games as the club’s leadoff hitter. I mean, it’s just bonkers. 8-4 Nationals over the Mets tonight. Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth after the visitors rallied for four in the top of the inning to make it a one-run game...

Espino vs the Mets: As of last night, following the Nationals’ win in the series finale with the Marlins in Miami, Washington skipper Davey Martinez still wasn’t sure about (or at least not ready to share) his plans for the pitching in today’s one-off game with the NY Mets.

“It’s probably going to be a bullpen day,” Martinez told reporters, “but we don’t know who is going to start it.”

Before tonight’s game, the fourth-year manager made it official. Paolo Espino got the nod, for his third start and 18th overall appearance of the season.

In his last start he tossed five scoreless against the Phillies on the road in Citizens Bank Park.

Tonight in the nation’s capital, the right-hander tossed a scoreless, nine-pitch first, and he had a 2-0 lead when he came back with a scoreless, 16-pitch second, and it was up to 3-0 after two when he worked around a one-out single in a 10-pitch third, then stranded two in a 20-pitch fourth.

A 12-pitch fifth, in which he worked around a leadoff single, gave him five scoreless on 67 pitches, and ten scoreless on 120 pitches in his last two starts.

Paolo Espino’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 Ks, 6/2 GO/FO.

Eickhoff vs the Nationals: Jerad Eickhoff, 30, and a one-time Phillies’ starter, signed with the Mets as a free agent this winter, and the right-hander was called up last week, throwing four scoreless against the Atlanta Braves in a 1-0 loss for New York, and he said afterwards that it felt good to make a strong case for a spot in the Mets’ rotation.

“This is what I worked for, to be in position to have this opportunity,” Eickhoff told reporters, as quoted in the NY Post.

“I don’t know what’s going to unfold here, but you have to put your best foot forward.”

Eickhoff didn’t get off to the best start tonight, however, with Kyle Schwarber, on a 90 MPH, 1-0 fastball, and Trea Turner, one pitch later, on another fastball, homering off the starter in the first two at bats of the Nationals’ first, 2-0. Schwarber’s 23rd this season, and 14th in the last 17 games, and Turner’s second in two games and 13th this season. Juan Soto doubled to center on the first pitch he saw, but he was stranded three outs later. 2-0 after one.

It was 3-0 after two innings, after Gerardo Parra hit the third home run of the game off the Mets’ starter, bouncing one off the foul pole in right on a 2-2 fastball he somehow kept fair. No. 1 for Parra in 2021.

Unbelievably, if you haven’t watched the las few weeks, Schwarber did it again in the fifth, hitting a 3-1 slider over the out-of-town scoreboard for his second of the game, 24th in ‘21, and his 15th in 17 games. 4-0. Unreal.

Yan Gomes doubled to right-center with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and scored one out later on an RBI single by Starlin Castro, 5-0.

Jerad Eickhoff’s Line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 4 HRs, 74 P, 51 S, 6/5 GO/FO.

Just Going To Put This Here:

Bullpen Action: Sam Clay worked around a 2-out HBP in a 21-pitch top of the sixth.

Clay came back out for the seventh and gave up a one-out single on which Luis Guillorme took a base when Starlin Castro threw it away. He got out No. 2 on a Patrick Mazeika roller to second before Davey Martinez went to the ‘pen again.

Wander Suero came on with Guillorme on third and two out and hit José Peraza in the head to put two on (luckily, seemingly, without any damage), putting two on in front of Jeff McNeil who hit an RBI single to center to get the Mets on the board, 5-1 after six and a half.

Sean Reid-Foley worked around a 1-out single by Trea Turner and stranded two (after an intentional walk to Josh Bell with two down) in a scoreless bottom of the seventh.

Suero came back out in the eighth, but was lifted after giving up a single by Dominic Smith.

Justin Miller took over with a runner on first and no one out with Pete Alonso at the plate, and gave up a two-run homer on the first pitch he threw, which Alonso hit out to left, 5-3. 417 foot shot. Alonso’s 12th this season.

Billy McKinney followed Alonso’s blast with one of his own, hitting a 92 MPH 2-2 fastball out to right field to make it a one-run game, 5-4, McKinney’s 5th.

Miller got one out before Davey Martinez went to the bullpen again for Brad Hand, asking the closer to get five outs. Hand got the first two outs on 10 pitches.

Miguel Castro gave up a one-out walk to Gerardo Parra, then a two-error misplay (bobble & throwing error) by Mets’ infielder Travis Blankenhorn on a Starlin Castro ground ball into the shift put runners on second and third with one out, in front of Ryan Zimmerman, who hit a 100 MPH, first-pitch sinker out to left-center for a three-run blast, and an 8-4 lead. #TKCHZ

Hand returned to the mound in the ninth and retired the Mets in order to end it. Ballgame.

Final Score: 8-4 Nationals

Nationals now 38-38