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Kyle Schwarber up to 15 home runs in 17 games after adding two last night in D.C.

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Kyle Schwarber is just riding the wave...

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With two home runs last night, Kyle Schwarber has hit 15 in his last 17 games, which, as the Washington Nationals mentioned on Twitter last night, makes him one of only three players in MLB history to go on such a prolific home run streak, along with Barry Bonds (2001) and Sammy Sosa (1998).

Another, more D.C.-centric achievement by Schwarber? Over his last nine games, he’s hit 11 out, tying one-time Senators’ slugger Frank Howard for the most homers over a nine-game stretch in MLB history. Howard hit 11 over nine games between May 10th and 18th in 1968.

[ed. note - “Howard actually hit 11 in eight games, but you get the point, pick a game on either side of that stretch to make it nine games.”]

And Schwarber was plum tickled to hear those stats when he spoke to reporters after he hit his 22nd and 23rd home runs overall in 2021 in what ended up an 8-4 win over the New York Mets on Monday night in the nation’s capital.

“That’s a cool stat,” Schwarber said. “I love when you guys come at me with some cool stats. But, definitely — it’s definitely something that you definitely want to just remember. You’re doing some things with really unbelievable players, and it’s just — keep riding the wave. That’s kind of the biggest thing, just ride the wave, don’t get too up, don’t get too down, just keep going out there and doing it, but that’s really cool, and it’s really cool that we’re both in D.C.”

Schwarber said he doesn’t really take time to appreciate the historic nature of what he’s done over the last few weeks, because he thinks it’s better not to think about it.

“I think it’s best if I don’t, to be honest with you,” Schwarber explained.

“I want to play stupid, that’s kind of the best way to describe it. You know, just keep going out there and take your at bat, don’t remember the one before, just live in the present, you know what I mean, that’s kind of the biggest thing, and I think that goes for when everything is going good and also when things aren’t working out. Just being able to turn the page and focus on the at bat that’s at hand, or the inning that’s at hand out on defense, things like that, I think that’s the biggest thing is just go out there and have a short memory.”

Schwarber hit his sixth leadoff home run in 17 games as the leadoff man in the bottom of the first last night, then homered again in the fifth, taking Mets’ righty Jerad Eickhoff deep both times. His six leadoff home runs are tied for the most in the majors in 2021 with José Altuve, who’s hit six in 66 games as a leadoff man this season. Getting his starters an early lead is definitely big.

“It’s awesome,” Paolo Espino said after becoming the sixth Nationals’ starter to benefit from Schwarber’s leadoff benevolence. “Those runs early, I mean, first batter of the game hit a homer, I mean, for me it gives me a little break, so, it’s awesome to see what he does every single day out there. It’s just amazing what he’s doing.”

“When you’re able to score first and early in the game,” manager Davey Martinez said, “your pitcher seems to be able to settle down a little bit.”

Martinez said he’s never seen anything like the run Schwarber has been on.

“Honestly, I’ve never seen nothing like it before,” the skipper said, “but I hope he keeps on doing it. I mean, he’s been awesome. He really has. He’s been getting good at bats. The beautiful thing about it, even though he hit the home runs, his last at bat, he hit a rocket to left field which is awesome too, so he’s staying on the ball well right now.”

Schwarber led off with a solo shot, Trea Turner followed with one of his own, Gerardo Parra homered in the second inning, and after an RBI single by Starlin Castro in the sixth, a three-run blast by Ryan Zimmerman in the eighth made it 8-4 after the Mets had rallied to make it a one-run game in the top of the inning.

But it all started with Schwarber’s leadoff blast.

“Being able to start the bottom of the first off there with a run,” Schwarber said, “... and then Trea obviously following right behind me with another home run there, I think it just allows the starter to settle in a little bit and just go out there and attack the zone. I thought — Paolo was fantastic, the way he went out there and pitched his butt off.”

“But yeah,” he added, “I’m not going up there trying to hit home runs, but whenever you can start the game off there with a run, and then add one later, it’s definitely a good feeling.

“It’s — I wouldn’t say that I haven’t felt locked in before — but the home runs, sure, that’s definitely been a little surprising, but just want to keep doing the consistent work day in and day out.”

The difference at the plate for him in the last 17 games, after he hit nine in his first 51 games this season?

“I think the biggest thing is just not missing the pitch,” Schwarber said, “not fouling it off, or taking it, that’s kind of the biggest thing, is whenever I’m swinging at the pitch I want to swing at, that it’s catching some barrel and it’s finding its way in the grass or somewhere else.”