CLINTON — That’s four years as an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and four Midwest League playoff appearances for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
The Kernels scored three times in the top of the first inning and beat the Clinton LumberKings, 6-1, Monday night at Ashford University Field for their eighth straight victory, clinching a playoff spot and home-field advantage in the first round.
Cedar Rapids swept the four-game series from the team with the best record in the league.
Luis Arraez and Travis Blankenhorn had RBI singles in the first inning, with J.J. Fernandez adding a sacrifice fly. Brandon Lopez added a pair of run-scoring hits, and Jaylin Davis a solo home run for the Kernels (76-57 overall, 40-24 in the second half). Starting pitcher Eduardo Del Rosario (6-2) allowed three hits and a run in 5 2/3 innings to get the win.
He has allowed just two earned runs in his last four starts. Max Cordy and Anthony McIver combined for 3 1/3 one-hit shutout innings to close the game out.
Cedar Rapids has Tuesday off, then begins a three-game series at Wisconsin. It will begin the Midwest League playoffs Wednesday, Sept. 7. Game 1 of the best-of-3 Western Division semifinals will be at the field of the team that eventually clinches the division’s other second-half playoff berth.
Wisconsin and Burlington are tied for that, with six regular-season games remaining. Peoria and Clinton picked up playoff spots in the first half.