CINCINNATI — Kolten Wong may not have the same offensive resume as some of his teammates at the top of the Brewers lineup, but three hits with the racquet Thursday night in Cincinnati gave him a feat unmatched by any other Milwaukee player this season.
Wong counted three home runs from the five spots in sequence and drove in all of the Brewers’ runs in the 5-1 win at Great American Ball Park. It was the first three-homer game and first five-RBI game of his career, and he hit a career high with his 15th home run of the year.
“I’m definitely not a guy that you see hitting three homers or even multiple homers in a game very often,” Wong said. “Pretty cool experience for me to suck that in. I’ve had the chance to do that before, but [I] trying to do too much. I said to myself [going up to bat in the eighth] ‘Don’t even try.’ It’s funny how that works.”
It didn’t take long for the second baseman to get going either. Wong hit out at Reds flamethrower Hunter Greene in the second inning, and Wong stretched his arms out on a letter-high 98-mile fastball, leaving a double blast in the Brewers’ bullpen behind the right field fence. Four innings later, Wong placed another two-run shot at a similar spot from right-hand assist Dauri Moreta, extending Milwaukee’s lead to 4-0.
Then, in the top of the eighth, Wong put the icing on the cake of his career night, jumping on a Joel Kuhnel slider and hammering it just right into the foul bar in right field.
When asked where it all sits on his list of career achievements?
“Oh, it must be up there,” said the 10-year-old Big Leaguer.
The 31-year-old has put in quite an attacking performance over the past week. He’s undercut .321/.367/.821 (yes, you read that right) in his last seven games with four home runs and nine RBIs.
“He’s been swinging the racquet really well against righties this year,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. “He had a really good Yankees streak, [but] probably missed some pitches he thought he should have hit in the Mets series. Obviously he didn’t miss any balls tonight.”
That was part of the maturation process for Wong. Through the ups and downs of his career, he has learned to trust his work.
“Obviously you get angry when you have bad games or something, but I’ve tried to really focus on turning the page and understanding that what I’m doing is right,” he said. “You’re going to have your good plays and your bad plays, but if I stay the way I’m going and the way I’m going, I know my momentum will produce.”
His performance also caught the attention of Reds manager David Bell, who coached Wong during his stint as a bench coach in St. Louis.
“I watched Kolten play for a long time. He’s a really good player, a great player,” Bell said. “But that was a special night.”
The “special” night even got Wong to reflect on a goal he had set for himself.
“I think everyone in this game wants to reach a point where they hit the 100 home run mark at some point,” he explained. “I’m still a long way from it, but I’m getting closer every day. [It’s] definitely one of those goals I want to achieve by the end of my career.”
He currently sits just 18 home runs away.
Wong’s offensive performance couldn’t have come at a better time either. It’s now or never for the Brewers whether they want to continue their season into the postseason.
Luckily for Milwaukee, they’re not in bad shape for that. Even as St. Louis pulls away with the NL Central crown, second and third NL wildcard spots are still within reach. The Brewers have a favorable schedule for that, with 11 of their last 13 games being played against under-.500 opponents. They are also allowed to travel home for the last nine games of the season after the weekend in Cincinnati.
With a Padres loss to St. Louis on Thursday, the Padres, Phillies and Brewers are now all within three games for the NL’s last two postseason spots.