Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Notes: Wong Staying in Lineup against Lefties; NLCS: GIANTS VS. CARDINALS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Notes: Wong Staying in Lineup against Lefties; NLCS: GIANTS VS. CARDINALS

Article excerpt

This past winter, as he geared his swing for a first shot at being an everyday player in the majors, Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong enlisted the help of as many college lefthanded pitchers as he could find near his Hawaiian home. He wanted to face lefty after lefty after lefty.

He's doing now what he prepared for then.

Wong drew his third consecutive start of the postseason against a lefthanded pitcher in Game 1 of the National League championship series Saturday at Busch Stadium. He was one of four lefthanded batters in the Cardinals' lineup, all of whom also started the final two games against Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw in the NL division series. The lefties went two for four with two strikeouts in their first turns against Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner on Saturday, and in his start Wong saw a deeper meaning.

"You've got that feeling like you finally made it," said Wong, who was one of the strikeouts. "It's time for me to step up and be the second baseman they want me to be and want me to be for years to come."

Bumgarner, the Giants' ace, offered a look different from either of the Dodgers' lefties. He held lefties to a .224 average during the season, and the widest gulch in his splits was the .393 slugging percentage by righties and the .293 slugging percentage from lefthanded batters. The Cardinals' lefthanded hitters had done well in the NLDS, with Jay going five for nine (.556) vs. lefties and Matt Carpenter five for 13 (.375). All three of Carpenter's homers came off lefties, and as a group the Cardinals' lefthanded batters hit five home runs off Dodgers lefties.

That includes Wong's bolt that won Game 3.

"I feel comfortable against lefties," said Wong, who went one for six with no strikeouts and a homer vs. LA's lefties. "It's definitely a big step for me in my career to get a chance to prove myself, to show I can do my fair share of damage. I wanted to see those lefties (in the winter) to understand lefties more, have an approach."

Wong, who turned 24 on Friday, hit .315 against lefties in 73 at- bats this season, and he slugged .466. Both were better than his rates against righties. …

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