ST. LOUIS -- Just as he did after committing a pair of errors in the Cardinals' home opener defeat back in April, Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong waited by his locker after Sunday's 6-4 loss to the Marlins ready to publically announce himself as at fault.
He had just endured his second multi-error game of the season, this time with fielding gaffes that led directly to Miami's final five runs. He had chances to turn double plays in both the fifth and sixth innings, but came up without an out in either instance.
An inability to make a play in the fifth swung that inning's outlook dramatically. Instead of facing the pitcher with two outs and no one on base, Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez found himself in a jam that eventually became a four-run Marlins inning. Had Wong been able to turn two on a ground ball an inning later, the inning would have ended without Adeiny Hechavarria scoring from third.
"It's just one of those games where things sped up on me," Wong explained. "It wasn't my day. I have made that play hundreds of times. I'm the type of guy who takes defense very seriously, so it's tough."
Manager Mike Matheny wasn't willing to let Wong wear the full burden of Sunday's loss. He spoke passionately in his postgame press conference about how far Wong has come defensively.
"This kid has been so good, and it's exactly what I told him," Matheny said. "We're at that point where he has developed himself into a guy where we want the ball hit to him. He has a tendency to wear these really hard, and I'm just not going to go there. He's, to me, a top tier defender. These days happen, and this is going to be a great opportunity for his teammates to tell him the exact same thing, to let this go, and realize that he has picked us up a lot and we're going to pick him up."
While Wong has now committed 12 errors on the season, he entered Sunday having made just one in his last 49 starts. Sunday's miscues snapped a string of 28 consecutive errorless starts for the second-year second baseman.
"He's doing the work," Matheny said. "He's doing everything that he can to continue to get better. And I think you're even going to see him get better with his quickness and his athleticism."
Wong, who has long carried the reputation of being someone who doesn't let failure roll off his back easily, said he has gotten "way better" at trying to let these sorts of things go.
"Obviously on the field, you're going to show some emotions because you're in the thick of things and you want to do whatever you can to help the team and to come up with errors like that is tough," he said. "I realize I'm a good fielder and things like that are going to happen. You learn from it and move on."