CINCINNATI — Kolten Wong may not have the same offensive résumé as some of his teammates at the top of the Brewers’ lineup, but three hits Thursday night in Cincinnati gave him a feat no other hitter has. of Milwaukee has achieved this season.
Wong hit three home runs out of five on the order and drove in all of the Brewers’ runs in a 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 set a career high with his 15th home run of the year.
“I’m definitely not a guy you’re going to see hit three home runs very often or even multiple home runs in a game,” Wong said. “It’s a very good experience for me to soak up that. I’ve had the opportunity to do it before, but [I] tried to do too much. I told myself [going up to bat in the eighth] Don’t even try. It’s funny how that works.”
The second baseman did not take long to become a starter. Hitting off Reds flame pitcher Hunter Greene in the second inning, Wong spread his arms on a card-high 98 mph fastball, depositing a two-run flurry into the Brewers’ bullpen over beyond the right field fence. Four innings later, Wong hit another two-run homer in a similar spot off right-handed reliever Dauri Moreta, increasing Milwaukee’s lead to 4-0.
Then, in the top of the eighth, Wong capped off his career night, jumping over a Joel Kuhnel slider and hammering it just inside the right-field foul pole.
When asked where did everything rank on your list of career achievements?
“Oh, he has to be up there,” the 10-year-old Major Leaguer said.
The 31-year-old has put together a great offensive performance over the past week. He is slashing .321/.367/.821 (yes, you read the slugging percentage right) in his last seven games with four homers and nine RBIs.
“He’s moved the bat really well against right-handed pitching this year,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He had a very good series for the Yankees, [but] he probably missed some pitches he thought he should have hit in the Mets’ series. He obviously he didn’t miss the dances tonight.”
That has been part of Wong’s maturing process. Through the ups and downs of her career, she has learned to trust the work that she is doing.
“Obviously you get mad when you have bad games or whatever, but I’ve been trying to really focus on turning the page and understanding that what I’m doing is correct,” he said. “You’re going to have your good games and your bad games, but if I follow where I’m going now and the way I’m going, I know my swing is going to produce.”
His performance also caught the attention of Reds manager David Bell, who coached Wong during his time as bench coach in St. Louis.
“I have watched Kolten play for a long time. He is a really good player, a great player,” Bell said. “But that was a special night.”
The “special” night even made Wong think of a goal he had set for himself.
“I think everyone in this game eventually wants to get to a point where they hit that 100-home run mark,” he explained. “I’m still a long way from that, but every day I get closer. [It’s] definitely one of those goals that I hope to achieve at the end of my career.”
He is currently only 18 home runs away.
Wong’s offensive outing couldn’t have come at a better time, either. It’s now or never for the Brewers if they want to continue their season all the way to the postseason.
Fortunately for Milwaukee, they’re not in a bad shape to do it. Even with St. Louis taking the NL Central crown, second and third place NL wild cards are still within reach. The Brewers have a favorable schedule to do so, with 11 of their last 13 games against opponents under .500. They can also return home for the final nine games of the season after the weekend in Cincinnati.
With the Padres’ loss to St. Louis on Thursday, the Padres, Phillies and Brewers are now three games out of the final two NL postseason spots.