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USATSI

Tuesday, the Washington Nationals took game one of their two-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays (WAS 4, TB 3). The win put the Nats over .500 (39-38) for the first time since starting the season 1-0. Entering play on Wednesday, Washington is three games behind the first-place New York Mets in the National League East.

Nationals outfielder Kyle Schwarber continued his historic hot streak with a 434-foot blast off Rays starter Rich Hill in the first inning. It was Schwarber's 16th homer in his last 18 games and his 25th of the season. Schwarber is tied with San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for the National League lead. 

With 12 home runs in 10 games, Schwarber tied the modern MLB record set by the Albert Belle in 1995 for most homers in a 10-game stretch. He also tied Barry Bonds (2001) and Sammy Sosa (1998) with 16 homers in an 18-game period. The 28-year-old Schwarber is slashing .253/.336/.576 (155 OPS+) in 69 games.

Following Tuesday's win, Schwarber told reporters, including ESPN's Jesse Rogers, that he is passing on participating in this year's Home Run Derby, citing rest. Schwarber said he hasn't been approached about competing in the event, but if he was, he said he would skip the event.

"I think the best thing to do is probably let it pass and rest up and look forward to the second half," Schwarber told Rogers. 

"The biggest thing is you're going to get sore, after the fact. You're taking almost 13-15 minutes of full swings. You never do that in a day [of] your daily routine in baseball. That's just torturing yourself. It's definitely taxing on the body."

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Aaron JudgeGary Sánchez, and Fernando Tatis Jr. are also among the stars who have said they will skip the Derby event this year.

Schwarber took his hacks in the 2018 Home Run Derby and said he came away fatigued. He finished runner-up in 2018 to then-Nationals slugger Bryce Harper

"It was a phenomenal Home Run Derby with Bryce in the finals," Schwarber said. "It was definitely a moment you're not going to forget. You kind of check that off your bucket list."

Angels two-way phenom and MLB home run leader Shohei Ohtani will compete in this year's Home Run Derby alongside defending champion and New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, Baltimore Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini and the hometown competitor Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. There are still four spots to fill in the eight-hitter field. 

The 2021 Home Run Derby is scheduled for Monday, July 12, while the All-Star Game is Tuesday, July 13. Both events will take place at Denver's Coors Field.