Travel-weary Kernels beat Burlington, 6-2
Pitcher Thorpe strikes out 10 to set tone
CEDAR RAPIDS – They call it a “show and go” in professional baseball.
You don’t have to report to the ballpark as early as usual, you don’t take pregame batting or fielding practice or do other early work. You literally show up and go play the game.
It’s what the uninformed casual fan thinks happens every day anyway.
“We’ll go put the uniforms on and see what happens,” laughed Cedar Rapids Kernels Manager Jake Mauer before a 6-2 win Tuesday night over Burlington at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
This was a character win for a ballclub that played in Dayton, Ohio, Monday night, then endured an eight-hour bus ride home. The old Windstar motor coach didn’t arrive in the City of Five Seasons until about 5:30 Tuesday morning.
Obviously a man with a heart, not to mention common sense, Mauer told his boys to rest as much as they could. They didn’t have to be at Memorial Stadium until 5 p.m. Tuesday, only an hour and a half before first pitch.
“I think the show and go was good for us,” said Kernels DH Mitch Garver, who went 2-for-4. “It was pretty easy. No stress, just show up, have some fun and play some ball.”
And it turned out they showed and went pretty well, thanks to a strong starting pitching performance by lefty Lewis Thorpe, who struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings. The Kernels (52-55, 21-16) went into the day tied with Quad Cities and Peoria for second place in the Midwest League’s Western Division, two games behind leader Kane County.
Throw the Cougars and Burlington out of the equation playoff wise, since they qualified in the first half by finishing first and second, respectively, in the division. There is a little over a month to go in the regular season.
“We’re trying to be smart here,” Mauer said. “We need to make a big push this last month. One off day and 30-some games left, I believe. We’ve got to try and stay as fresh as best we can.”
Thorpe, the 18-year-old Australian, set the tone for his exhausted team. He gave up a solo home run to the second batter he faced (Angel Rosa), but settled in beautifully, giving up just four hits and a walk.
His breaking ball was particularly sharp, which led to a season high in Ks. Chris Mazza and Jake Reed followed with 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief, with Reed earning his first professional save.
“I slept on that whole bus trip home,” Thorpe said. “Had some Nyquil and passed out for the majority of it. It was just hard getting back to sleep when we finally got home at 5 in the morning. I already had some sleep, and the sun was out, so I was like ‘Oh, lord, I don’t know how this day is going to pan out.’ But I just kept hydrated and did all the stuff I needed to do to get ready for the game. I think it showed.”
The teams play again Wednesday night at 6:35.
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