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Against an experienced Pleasant Valley team, the J-Hawks learned they have a ways to go.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — You could say it was just Cedar Rapids Kernels Manager Jake Mauer protecting his players.
But when the player is his younger brother and Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer, a second-inning ejection had many in the sellout crowd of 5,307 sitting up and taking notice last night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Joe Mauer returned from a scheduled day off during his rehabilitation stint with the Kernels and was 3-for-5 with three singles, an RBI and a run in a 6-5 Kane County victory.
“I felt good tonight,” Mauer said. “Even the first ball I hit I felt like I was on time. It’s nice to have the results, but I’ll start to feel closer and closer. It was definitely better than the last two days.”
During his second at-bat with Cedar Rapids trailing 3-2, Kane County starter Jonathan Martinez went inside on Mauer at the waist for the second inning in a row. Jake Mauer voiced his displeasure from the third-base coaching box. Since it was in the direction of base umpire Adrian Gonzalez and not the home plate umpire, it appeared the elder Mauer was looking for a balk.
“I kind of missed the first part of it,” Joe Mauer said. “From what I understand, he was protecting his guys in his dugout. You know, that’s what a manager’s supposed to do.”
It was relatively quick heave-ho from Gonzalez. The manager was unavailable for comment by press time.
The Kernels (58-59, 27-20 second half) fought back from a rough beginning by lefty starter Stephen Gonsalves (1-2), who allowed three runs and three hits in the first.
Joe Mauer played all nine innings and made a few plays at first base, deftly snaring a liner in the third and assisted on a pair of bouncers in the fifth and eighth.
“I felt a lot better tonight than the first night,” Mauer said. “I got through the whole game. ... I checked a few more things off (the rehab list) today. Scoring from home, going into second and sliding, things like that. Got a couple ground balls so that was good.”
Mauer expects to play again today. His RBI single in the ninth began a three-run rally, highlighted by a two-run double from Mitch Garver that scored Mauer from first with the help of a bobble by right fielder Kevin Brown. Logan Wade struck out with the bases loaded to end the rally. Max Murphy (two hits) has reached base in all 11 of his games as a Kernel.
The teams play today at 5:05 in a game announced as the second sellout in a row.
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