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Washington Nationals’ lineup for 1st of 2 with the Tampa Bay Rays

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Washington and Tampa Bay play another two-game set, this time in the nation’s capital...

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

Schwarber, Schwarber, Schwarber, we know. But this might be the rare instance when it’s okay to keep talking about one player when the whole team is enjoying success, because what Kyle Schwarber has done over the last 17 games is really just that impressive. He has now hit 15 home runs over his last 17 games, going 23 for 65 (.354/.411/1.046), with seven walks and 20 Ks in 73 plate appearances in this stretch.

The biggest change for Schwarber at the plate during this otherwordly run?

“I think the biggest thing is just not missing the pitch,” Schwarber said last night, after his two-home run game in the Nationals’ 8-4 win over the Mets. “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.”

All of the non-home run hits over the last 17 games have been singles, and in spite of his run it seems opposing pitchers are determined to keep pitching to him. Having Trea Turner and Juan Soto hitting behind him likely has something to do with that, especially with Turner on a run of his own, with a .333/.397/.530 line, two doubles, one triple, three home runs, seven walks, and 11 Ks in the last 17 games and 73 PAs, while Soto has put up a less flashy, but still solid .271/.368/.356 line with five doubles, nine walks, and 11 Ks in 68 PAs.

Winning looks good on this club.

“Yeah, I mean, this team is phenomenal, just the character and the mindset and the day in and day out work and attitudes that we all have,” Schwarber said.

“It’s been really fun. We always say winning is fun, but it’s definitely been a good time, and we’ve never — I don’t think we ever doubted ourselves, that was kind of the biggest thing. Is that we just knew that if we keep rolling, keep going out there, and keep grinding, and keep putting in the consistent work that good things are going to happen.

“Good things are happening right now, and that’s great, and the biggest thing is that I know that this team is always going to be prepared to put their best foot forward and we’re going to have to take the end result at the end of the day, win or loss.”

Manager Davey Martinez was asked last night if he’s more surprised when a Schwarber at bat doesn’t end in a home run these days?

“No,” he said. “It really — I tell him all the time when he goes up there I just want him to have good at bats, I remind him every time, ‘Hey, take your walks, get the ball in the strike zone,’ and when he does that, you’ve seen what he can do.

“He’s been awesome. And he’s been an unbelievable leadoff hitter for us, so it’s been good.”

So, is the decision to move Schwarber to the leadoff spot, which somehow sparked this run the best manager decision he’s made in his four years on the bench?

”It’s been pretty good, let’s keep it going.”

HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE 1ST OF 2 WITH THE RAYS: