Kolten Wong is raking, playing center field at Triple-A

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It’s been quite an up and down year for Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong. The year started out with him signing a long-term contract extension to the tune of five-years and $25.5 million. Then it featured him hitting .222/.306/.286 with a total of four extra-base hits in 144 plate appearances. That led to a demotion to the minors a little over a week ago.

Maybe now he’s on his way back up.

Wong hit two homers in a Triple-A game last night and now has four home runs and 11 RBI in six games since being sent down. He’s 10-for-24 and has walked four times. What’s more, he’s played center field the last two games which could make him an attractive super utility guy for the Cardinals, hastening his return to the bigs. Indeed, he’ll have to be something of a super ute barring injury, as Matt Carpenter has taken over at second base for the Cardinals with Jhonny Peralta playing third and Aledmys Diaz at short.

Whatever the case, Wong is making the most of his time on the farm and is making what looked to be a hard road back a bit easier.

Mike Leake loses perfect game bid on leadoff single in the ninth

Mike Leake
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Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.

It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.

The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.

In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.

Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.