(BaseballStL) — If Monday belonged to Matt Adams, then it was Tuesday Kolten Wong Night at Busch stadium.
The lefty second baseman picked up two hits, driving in three of the five Cardinal runs in a second late-game win over the Pirates. In the bottom of the ninth, he was the last man standing between victory and extra innings.
With two outs, he fell behind 0-2, then took three balls from Ernesto Frieri to load the count. On pitch number six, he ended the game.
“As soon as I hit it I knew I hit it well, and looking at the trajectory I knew it was going out,” Wong said at his locker.
In a near carbon-copy of Monday’s walk off homer, the 23-year-old roped a shot down the line and into the right field seats.
“Once I got to 3-2 I was definitely sitting dead red fastball. I was either going to get that pitch or strike out because I was swinging at something hard,” he said. “If he threw something else I would have been in trouble.”
It was Wong’s third homer as a major leaguer, and his second since coming off the DL. After jamming his shoulder, the Cardinal infielder was having trouble finishing his swings, and eventually had to shut down because of the pain. Since returning, he’s gone 4-for-10 with a double, two bombs and four RBIs.
“It looks like he got himself to the point where he feels good physically and he’s able to get through the ball obviously,” Matheny said.
“As you can see my swings are a lot more aggressive now,” Wong added. “Just having that in my mind, knowing I can swing the bat without pain, brings a lot of calm to me and a lot of comfort in my swing.”
Unlike Adams, Wong had a walk off homer before; albeit in college. Still, he said it wasn’t a familiar feeling.
“I’m definitely not the kind of guy to hit a home run, but I’m glad it happened to me,” he smiled. “I didn’t know what to do. The entire stadium was on their feet and you see your team around home plate. Usually I’m always that guy there, getting ready to jump on someone coming home. For me to be switching places with someone was awesome.”
It’s a high point in a season that has seen it’s share of lows for Wong. He’s spent two different stints in AAA, and his sub-.240 average has been tremendously frustrating. When he went on the DL, part of his rehab was psyche-focused; a self-directed plan to get himself back to enjoying the game he loves. When he returned to St. Louis he felt he had found that happiness again.
“It’s such a tough game. This game is so hard to continue to succeed in, that at some point you just have to tell yourself you gotta have fun,” he explained. “I kind of told myself that and I’m still working on trying to continue to have fun but every once in awhile I’ll be hard on myself and I have to step back and understand that I’m going to fail. It’s just about having the confidence to come back and succeed in the next at bat or next play.”
In the midst of Monday night’s heroics, Wong said he decided to have fun at the expense of Matt Adams. As the big lefty trotted home, the speedy infielder grabbed cups of water, preparing to soak his teammate. He was foiled when Yadier Molina took him down.
“I had two cups running out and Yadi came from the side and tackled me and I dropped both cups,” he smiled, shaking his head. “Yadi saw me going out there and figured that was the best thing, and I spilled water all over myself.”
Tuesday, he had far more assailants waiting for him when he crossed the plate, something the 5’9” Wong said was a bit intimidating.
“It was a little scary, once I went in there. I saw those big guys and I didn’t know if I was going to get beat up or what,” he laughed.
The victory pulled the Cardinals to within three games of the division-leading Brewers. For Frieri, it was the eighth home run he’s given up in the ninth inning.