'We needed that' -- Wisdom breaks record

September 19th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- The baseball launched by rolled to a stop on a ledge in the black backdrop in center field at American Family Field on Sunday night. The Cubs slugger was going to want that one back.

Wisdom's eighth-inning blast on Sunday afternoon not only powered Chicago to a 6-4 win over the Brewers, but set the Cubs' single-season record for homers by a rookie. After the game, Wisdom witnessed the ball being retrieved on his behalf.

"I saw the grounds-crew guy with a ladder out there trying to get it," Wisdom said with a smile. "I think it'll be in my locker."

Wisdom's 27th homer of the season pushed him out of a tie for the Cubs' all-time rookie mark held by Kris Bryant, who had 26 as part of his 2015 National League Rookie of the Year campaign. Billy Williams' previous record of 25 had held since 1961.

During the Giants' recent visit to Wrigley Field, Bryant issued an early congratulations to Wisdom for what seemed like an inevitable moment. After their conversation, Wisdom equaled the mark with a shot in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Wisdom's record-breaking homer was a three-run shot against Brewers righty Jandel Gustave. Wisdom crushed a 98-mph sinker to center, where it came crashing down to the left of the batter's eye. It took a friendly bounce and rolled to its resting spot.

"The fact that he breaks the rookie record for this organization," Cubs manager David Ross said, "with some really talented players that have been here, and in that fashion, was awesome."

The home run capped off a five-run outburst that began with a 14-pitch, leadoff walk by Willson Contreras. It helped the Cubs snap a franchise-record 11-game losing streak in matchups vs. the Brewers, and it ended Wisdom's streak of seven straight strikeouts.

"We needed it. He needed it," Ross said. "I can't remember the date he got called up, but it's not even a full season he's got to do that."

Wisdom joined the Cubs on May 25 amid a rash of injury setbacks to the big league roster. He made his first start on May 27 and proceeded to slug eight homers in a 13-game span. Streaks like that -- both good and bad -- have been a part of Wisdom's season.

Overall, the 30-year-old rookie has hit .237/.304/.530 with 144 strikeouts against 29 walks in 101 games. His 40.8 percent strikeout rate is the highest in the Majors among batters with at least 250 plate appearances.

Even so, Wisdom has remained a regular part of the lineup, given his defensive versatility and ability to launch baseballs at any moment. That confidence in Wisdom has not been lost on him. He said it even entered his mind when he was slotting in the cleanup spot Sunday, following a four-strikeout game Saturday.

"It's tough when you have nights like I did last night," Wisdom said. "And then you see your name in the lineup again, hitting fourth. You're like, 'Well, they still believe in me, I've got to believe in myself.' It's kind of like a gut check."

Now, Wisdom can check the Cubs' record book for another confidence boost.

"It's awesome," he said of the milestone. "I'm definitely honored. It was really cool. My wife and my two daughters were here in the stands, so that was pretty special for me. It's just a testament to the support system I have."