During their best stretch of the season, Kyle Schwarber powered the Nationals’ offense, with Washington 16-8 in a 24-game stretch that saw the 28-year-old go 27 for 85 (.318/.400/.894) with a double, 16 home runs, 12 walks, and 29 Ks in the 100 plate appearances after skipper Davey Martinez moved his left fielder to the leadoff spot for the first time on June 8th.
But a hamstring injury put Schwarber on the 10-Day IL on July 3rd, and since then the club’s had to get its offensive going without the power he was providing.
They scored just four runs in back-to-back losses in the first two games without June’s NL Player of the Month, but in the first three games with the San Diego Padres in Petco Park, Martinez’s club has scored 26 runs, taking 2 of 3, with 15 of the runs in last night’s 15-5 win, which earned the club at least a split of the four-game set after they took the series opener, 7-5.
“Everybody in the lineup has stepped up, they really have,” Martinez said after his team put up 15 runs on 17 hits on Wednesday night, going 7 for 15 with runners in scoring position in the win, with Juan Soto hitting a three-run, opposite field home run to get things started in the top of the first.
“We’re putting the ball in play,” the manager continued, “... we’re moving the baseball, we’re doing the little things offensively, and you’ve got [Josh Bell] who’s hitting the ball really well right now, Starlin [Castro] who’s driving in big runs. J-Hay [Josh Harrison], who’s been consistent all year long, but he’s driving in some runs now, and Yan Gomes who’s been tearing it up as well. You’re seeing these guys really put some good at bats together. Trea [Turner] is doing what Trea always does, Juan [Soto] has been hitting the ball, but the last few days he’s gotten the ball up in the air — that home run today was a rocket. So when we get [good] at bats throughout the game it does wear pitchers out, especially starters, but you’ve got to grind those at bats to get them out of there.”
With the addition of Alcides Escobar (8 for 21, .381/.435/.476), the Nats have been grinding out at bats and, as Martinez said, wearing opposing pitchers out.
“We’re seeing a lot of pitches now,” Martinez told reporters, “and those guys, like I said about Alcides, he works good at bats, he battles up there, he fouls balls off, he gets on base, so he’s doing well, and it’s kind of a trend, when you get one guy to do that and see pitches, it helps all of the other hitters out.
“He’s been doing well for us, not only with his at bats, but playing second base really well.”
Soto, 4 for 11 with two home runs in Petco, talked after the win last night about how their ability to produce on offense now bodes well for when the team gets Schwarber back in there.
“Yeah, I mean, that tells you how it’s going to be in the second half, it’s going to be really fun with this lineup and Schwarber back,” the 22-year-old slugger said.
“I hope he can be back soon, but it’s going to be fun, I think our second half is going to be better than our first one ... so you can see everybody is getting locked in, and ready to get going.”
Before they get to the second half, there’s one more with the Padres tonight and then three with the San Francisco Giants in Oracle Park.