Kyle Schwarber done done it again. Schwarber led off the Washington Nationals’ first with his seventh leadoff home run of the year (all in the month of June), his 16th home run in the last 18 games, and his 25th on the season, and after a Trea Turner double, Juan Soto hit his first home run of the year at home in Nationals Park, to stake the home team to a 3-0 lead in the first, and they were up 4-0 after Victor Robles hit his first of the season in the bottom of the second inning.
Joe Ross went into the seventh, giving up just two runs, and the bullpen took it from there, with Sam Clay, Austin Voth, and Brad Hand finishing it out, 4-3 final.
Ross vs the Rays: Joe Ross gave up five runs on six hits in five innings of work against the New York Mets two starts back, but rebounded with a scoreless, seven-inning outing in a win over the Miami Marlins last time out before tonight, walking two and striking out eight while throwing 101 pitches to the 25 batters he faced on the road in loanDepot park.
Joe Ross, Wicked 86mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/A94iqAvIMb— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 29, 2021
That outing left the right-hander with a 3.21 ERA and a .213/.305/.333 line against in nine starts and 47 2⁄3 IP on the road, but tonight he was back in the nation’s capital, where the 28-year-old right-hander had a 5.74 ERA and a .262/.315/.524 line against in five starts and 26 2⁄3 IP on the year.
Ross tossed a scoreless first, and came out for the second with a 3-0 lead, courtesy of yet another leadoff home run by Kyle Schwarber and a 2-run HR by Juan Soto, and tossed his second scoreless frame on 10 pitches, then came out for the third up 4-0 and held the Rays off the board through four, but Brandon Lowe hit a 2-out HR to center in the top of the fifth, and 1- and 2-out doubles in the sixth got the visiting team another run and made it a two-run game, 4-2.
After a leadoff walk and a strikeout into the seventh, Ross was done for the day, lifted in favor of Sam Clay with a runner on after his 88th pitch...
Joe Ross’s Line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 88 P, 57 S, 7/4 GO/FO.
Joe Ross has a 1.99 ERA over 5 June starts.@JoeRoss21 // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/HHCF1UD4B6— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 30, 2021
Hill vs the Nats: Unbeaten in his last five starts heading into tonight’s outing, Rays’ lefty Rich Hill, who had a 3.28 ERA, 12 walks, 20 Ks, and a .209/.313/.349 line against over that stretch, took the mound tonight going up against a Nationals’ roster which had a .256/.337/.395 line vs LHPs on the season, good for 9th/3rd/18th across the line among MLB’s 30 teams.
The 41-year-old left-hander, who signed a 1-year/$2.5M free agent deal with Rays this winter, took the mound in Nationals Park and got ambushed! Kyle Schwarber hit a first-pitch, 83 MPH “fast”ball out to right field, and after a Trea Turner double to left, Juan Soto hit a line drive into the right field bullpen for a 2-run shot and a 3-0 lead. Phew. Catch your breath, Rich. Schwarber with No. 7 in the first at bat of the game for the Nationals since moving to the leadoff spot, No. 16 in 18 games, and No. 25 overall on the season, and Soto with his first homer in D.C. this season, and 9th overall.
Here's your daily Kyle Schwarber June HR tally update:— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 29, 2021
6/12 - SCHWAR
6/13 - 2 SCHWAR s
6/14 - SCHWAR
6/19 - 2 SCHWAR s
6/20 - 3 SCHWAR s
6/23 - SCHWAR
6/24 - 2 SCHWAR s
6/25 - SCHWAR
6/28 - 2 SCHWAR s
6/29 - SCHWAR @kschwarb12 // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/8MzZMA7UVO
Here is a video of 1 of the 3 HRs we've hit today.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 29, 2021
(There are no outs in the 2nd.)#NATITUDE // https://t.co/dyQEHdX8v8 pic.twitter.com/jXaH8uZ6l1
Victor Robles got Hill in the first at bat of the second, hitting his first of the season out to left on a line on an 88 MPH first pitch “fast”ball to make it a 4-0 game in the Nats’ favor.
Psssst...— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 29, 2021
It took 2 innings for our whole outfield to homer.@Victor__Robles // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/Z58Dtx769Y
Hill held it there though five, throwing just 67 pitches to that point, and he came back out for the sixth in a 4-2 game and worked around a leadoff single by Ryan Zimmerman in a 15-pitch frame.
Rich Hill’s Line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 3 HRs, 76 P, 51 S, 7/4 GO/FO.
Schwarber’s June: Kyle Schwarber already held the franchise record for homers in a single month with 15 in 25 games in June after connecting for two last night, and he got his 16th in 26 games in his first at bat of the night, leading off with his 7th HR in 18 games as the leadoff hitter in the nation’s capital this season, which has him two behind Alfonso Soriano for the most leadoff home runs in a single season when Soriano hit nine in 2006.
Here are all SWEET SIXTEEN of Kyle Schwarber's home runs since June 12.@kschwarb12 // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/vaSLibYPJr— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 29, 2021
Bullpen Action: Sam Clay took over with a runner on and one out in the Rays’ seventh, after a leadoff walk by Joe Ross, and a swinging K, and gave up a Yandy Díaz single but got out of the inning with the two-run lead intact.
Austin Voth got the eighth for the Nationals, and retired the Rays in order in a 13-pitch top of the inning.
Rays’ lefty Jeffrey Springs retired the Nationals in order in the eighth.
Brad Hand came on for the save and gave up a towering home run to left field by Mike Zunino, who bounced his 17th of the season off the left field foul pole, 4-3 Nats, but the next three went down in order. Ballgame.
Final Score: 4-3 Nationals
Nationals now 39-38