8/8/2014 1:16 A.M. ET
On two-homer night, Wong's thoughts drift homeward
As Hawaii braces for hurricanes, second baseman has solid night at plate
By Alex Halsted / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Kolten Wong spent the rain delay Thursday evening on the phone with his father, who sat in a boarded house in Hilo, Hawaii, awaiting the arrival of a pair of hurricanes.
The rookie's mind was on his boarded-up house 10 minutes from the island's coast where Iselle, a Category 1 hurricane, was expected to hit Thursday night with Julio, a Category 3 hurricane, following a similar path right behind bringing torrential rains and winds in excess of 100-mph.
"Don't worry about me, just worry about the game," Wong's father told him.
"Yeah, that's easy for you to say," Wong responded.
At the conclusion of a one-hour, four-minute rain delay at Busch Stadium, Wong had little choice. His father's advice, however, would pay off.
The left-handed-hitting second baseman lifted a 384-foot home run into the right-field bleachers in the fifth inning to pad the Cardinals' lead. A quick swing sent a 423-foot shot out in the seventh inning, capping a 5-2 victory over the Red Sox. The second homer, Wong's ninth of the season, marked the first multihome run game for him since his college days at the University of Hawaii.
"All my friends back at home were texting me, telling me ... some of the winds from there came here and blew my balls out," Wong said. "I was like, 'Thanks, guys. I appreciate it. I guess I don't have any pop.'"
"He's got really impressive bat speed, he always has," manager Mike Matheny added. "We've talked about that since the day he got here, and there is an ability for the ball to jump when you have bat speed like that and you don't cheat. You just take the head of the bat to the ball and watch it jump. A couple of real nice swings today."
Solid swings have become a more common occurrence for Wong of late as he has made a conscious effort to shorten his swing and not aim for the fences. Ironically, the result has been more home runs.
Since returning from the disabled list July 6, Wong has launched eight of his nine home runs, tied for the second most in the Majors during that span behind Houston's Chris Carter (11).
Clutch hitting has followed the rookie, too. Both home runs Thursday came with two outs, and 25 of Wong's 31 RBIs this season have come with two gone.
"With two strikes, I definitely try to shorten up a lot more than usual," Wong said. "I think shortening up has given me a lot of power and a lot of base hits, which I'm trying to take that through every at-bat now."
Back in the clubhouse, as the team prepared for a late night trip to Baltimore following its 4-2 homestand, Wong's mind turned back home.
"It's kind of crazy to hear that a hurricane is coming, because the whole time I've been home I've never had to experience anything like this," Wong said. "It [stinks] not being there to be with them, but I just hope that the boards and the mountain does its job and pushes it away."
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.