Washington Nationals outfielder Kyle Schwarber has found himself on the right side of MLB history – again.
After smashing his 12th home run in 10 games, Schwarber tied the record for the most home runs in a 10-game stretch. Schwarber led off with a solo home run in the first inning to give the Nationals an early 1-0 lead over the Rays.
The home run tied a record that stood since 1995, when Indians slugger Albert Belle also hit 12 homers in 10 games.
It’s the second time Schwarber made history in as many days. On Monday, the 28-year-old hammered two home runs, which broke the record for most homers all-time by a leadoff hitter in a single calendar month (15).
In June, Schwarber has a .292 batting average, 16 home runs, and 30 RBIs. He also boasts a .792 slugging average. For perspective, the average slugging percentage last season was .418, according to Baseball-Reference.
The Indiana University alum has now raised his average to .253 to go with a National League-leading 25 home runs and 53 RBIs. The key to Schwarber’s newfound success has been simply to wait for his pitch.
“I think that’s kind of the biggest thing is keying in on your pitch and not trying to hit a home run,” Schwarber said of the first-pitch homer. “I’ve caught myself trying to do that where I’ve swung and missed at a first-pitch fastball that could’ve been a hit, and you find yourself trying to do too much with the pitch.”
Schwarber spent the first six years of his career with the Chicago Cubs. He signed a one-year, $10 million deal with Washington this past offseason. The contract also includes a mutual option if the Nationals want to keep Schwarber for next year.
One team that has found themselves at the other end of Schwarber’s success is the Mets. In June, they have faced the Nationals just five times, but Schwarber has managed to mash seven home runs and 10 RBIs. They have no answer for the slugger.
“We tried everything,” Mets manager Louis Rojas said after Schwarber’s two home run game on Monday. “We were pitching him in, away, down, up. We were bouncing balls. This guy’s swinging a hot bat. He hasn’t just done it against us. We’re watching highlights of him doing it against other teams, too.”
Now, thanks to Schwarber’s record-breaking run, the Nationals have found themselves a game above .500 and second place in the NL East. They have been gnawing away at the Mets’ lead, and sit just three games behind them.