(Busch Stadium) No matter which defensive metric you prefer, chances are that Kolten Wong is going to be at or near the very top amongst second baseman this season. The St. Louis Cardinal was flashing the leather again tonight to help beat Milwaukee 5-2 and move the team to within 0.5 games of the Brewers in the NL Wild Card race.
Wong had six putouts on the night, including a highlight reel effort of charging in barehanded and throwing from his shoelaces as he rolled to the ground to nab Keon Broxton at first base in the 8th inning.
“I already know how I’m going to attack that play, it’s more about not trying to rush it,” explained Wong. “Understanding that I don’t have that much time, but I have enough time to make the play correctly. It’s just one of those things where I practice that play a lot and practice from throwing at that angle a lot so it’s just a matter of lining up my body in front of it and making sure I field the ground ball first.”
Before the game, Wong went through his customary paces in the field–part of which included mental reps and a first step on each swing the pitcher’s took during batting practice. The type of play he made on Broxton was one that he had already played through in his mind.
“Oh yeah,” said Wong. “You’re always trying to think of situations you’re going to be put in as a defender. Balls in the middle, how am I going to attack it? How am I going to throw, what angle? Arm angle I’m going to have to throw it from. Those are all things in the back of my mind, so once the ball’s hit, I kind of have an idea of exactly how I’m going to attack this ball and how I’m going to get rid of it.”
Following his web gem, most of the crowd at Busch Stadium rose to their feet in appreciation.
“I love these people here,” smiled Wong. “They always love the defensive plays and for me, I’ve always believed being a good defender is all about effort. Going out there every single day and putting in the work, putting in the time to build your repertoire as a defenseman. I pride myself on that and I’m glad these guys appreciate that here.”
“I mean, he’s really good over there,” praised Jack Flaherty. “Anytime the ball’s hit that way, you just kind of expect him to make the play. For him to something like that, it was special. It was fun to see.”
Flaherty improved to 7-6 on the season and struck out seven Milwaukee batters, raising his total to 29 strikeouts against the Brewers in 18.0 innings this season.
Following his defensive heroics, Wong delivered at the plate in the bottom half of the inning. With the bases loaded, he guided a line drive into left field to score a pair of runs.
“I took my shot on the first pitch, I got a fastball middle-middle,” said Wong, who’s hit a few big home runs to right field in his career. “I wanted to stay through a ball and kind of stick to driving the ball to left field. I know when I’m going good, that’s where I’m hitting my balls. I understood that he was kind of attacking me with that changeup, so I wanted to stay on it and not pull off.”
Wong extended his hitting streak to five games (.471, 8-17) and has driven in six runs in his last four games.
WAINWRIGHT TO SPRINGFIELD
–Following his two scoreless outings at Palm Beach (A+), Adam Wainwright will make his next rehab start this Sunday at Springfield (AA). He allowed no runs, one hit, and struck out five in 5.0 innings over two starts. Wainwright is expected to throw two innings.
Carlos Martinez is also scheduled to pitch out of the bullpen that game. Martinez made his first rehab appearance with Springfield tonight, allowing only a solo home run with a strikeout in 2.0 innings.
photo credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports