As we celebrated the 246th birthday of the US Army, there were more than helicopters flying over Nationals Park after the quartet of helo’s were a pre-game warmup for the crescendo as Kyle Schwarber smashed the game-winning home run in the 7th inning to send the Nats to victory formation with a 3-2 win over the Pirates.
With Schwarber batting in the leadoff spot over 4 games this season, he is now batting .384 this season with 4 home runs and 7 RBIs in that No. 1 spot in the lineup. Schwarber was robbed of going 3-3 in the game after a leaping catch in mid-right field was made in the first inning on him. He had two of the three RBIs in the game for the Nats with the first one coming off of a line drive single.
“I got a lot of belief in this team,” Schwarber said. “There’s been a lot of adversity thrown at the team to start the year — guys on the COVID list. There have been some injuries here, left and right. … I always feel like we’re in games. I never feel like we’re out of reach.”
Starter Jon Lester pitched well enough to win, and he exited at 5 1/3 innings with a runner on second base with a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately, reliever Wander Suero allowed that inherited runner to score and the lead was gone. Technically the bullpen threw up zeroes, and we saw some nail-biting performances from Kyle Finnegan and Tanner Rainey who both put up zeroes and were helped by their defense.
In Lester’s 9 starts, he has given up 1 run or less in 5 of those starts, 2 runs tonight, and 3 runs in a game once, and of those 7 good starts he has not earned 1 win. The team is just 4-5 in his starts this season, mostly due to low run support and poor bullpenning.
“As long as we win the game,” Lester said, “I really don’t care.”
With that 3-2 lead in the 9th inning, manager Dave Martinez called on his closer. Entering for the 9th inning was Brad Hand who earned his 12th save of the season in a tidy 1-2-3 inning and a total of 11 pitches. The Nats’ closer is 9-for-9 in this span of saves.
There was a chippy part of the game when former Pirates infielder Josh Harrison was nailed near his spine with a 94 mph heater. He spiked his bat into the ground as he was visibly yelling at reliever Sam Howard. While Harrison remained in the game, the Pirates manager yanked Howard.