Kyle Schwarber hit another leadoff home run, his seventh in his (and the Nationals’) first at bat of the game since Washington’s skipper Davey Martinez made him the leadoff hitter.
Juan Soto hit his first home run in Nationals Park this season, and his 9th overall on the year two at bats after Schwarber’s 25th of 2021, and Trea Turner was on for Soto’s blast, after he doubled in the second at bat of the bottom of the first.
Then in the first at bat of the second, with the home team up, 3-0, Victor Robles hit a first-pitch fastball from Tampa Bay Rays’ starter Rich Hill into the visitor’s bullpen in left field to collect his first home run of the season, in his 66th game.
Martinez, repeating what he’s said often during Schwarber’s run of 16 homers in 18 games, told reporters that he really hasn’t “seen anything like this,” but he was equally excited that Soto and Robles got in on the home run action in what ended up being a one-run win, with Robles’s blast the eventual game-winner.
“That was awesome,” Martinez said of Soto’s homer. “I think Soto’s ball went out about 118-119 MPH, so that ball was crushed. And it was on a line.
“It was good to see him get to the pull side, get the ball up, and hit the ball that hard, and then Robles, he waited a long time for that one. Also he hit the ball hard, so it was a good dugout celebration for the boys when he hit it, but you know, ‘Hey, you’ve got to keep it rolling.’ That’s what I told him, ‘Glad you got your first one, but play baseball the rest of the game and let’s get a win.’”
Robles was seen flashing some sort of key on a chain around his neck in the dugout after his homer, which he explained is a new thing the manager started.
“Yeah, it’s something that the last two or three weeks Davey carries around and he hands it to the home run of the game,” Robles said, “... kind of like the key of the game, with a home run, and he handed it to me today.”
So, Schwarber has to have had it for as long as it’s been around, right?
“Hey, I’m happy to pass that thing off, whenever I can,” Schwarber said, “and obviously I love to have it, but I’m looking forward to most — just passing that thing off to the next person.”
All eight position players in last night’s game picked up a hit, with three doubles and three home runs out of the club’s eight hits overall.
Robles getting his first home run on the board is a big thing for the 24-year-old outfielder, who has struggled at the plate this season, but is showing signs of life offensively, as he’s playing a solid center field, after a down year on both ends in 2020’s 60-game campaign.
Getting that first home run of the year, he said, brought a bit of relief.
“You know it’s a weight lifted off my shoulders, and now I know the next one is just going to come naturally, keep working in the strike zone and let things come as they will.”
Was the lack of homers this year something that was constantly on his mind as the games went by this season?
“You know, to be honest, you would go out there and try not to think about it, and obviously day by day it’s hard not to focus, it drifts into your mind a little bit, but luckily I was able to do it today, and there was a sigh of relief,” Robles said.
Will they keep hitting balls out of the yard today in the second of two with the Rays in D.C.?