CEDAR RAPIDS — Dave Kirilloff is a hitting guru. He does workshops and traveling tours, sells videos and has his own website: LanguageOfBaseball.com.
The Pittsburgh area man and his son, Alex, talk multiple times a week. Dad generally has a tip or two at the ready.
“He’s always got something for me,” Alex Kirilloff said with a smile, after the outfielder helped the Cedar Rapids Kernels to a 6-5 win Tuesday night over Quad Cities at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I don’t really need to ask. He’s always got something to say.”
Hard to imagine Dave Kirilloff having too many suggestions for improvement at the moment because Alex is on a tear. He improved his hitting streak to 14 games with a 3-for-4 performance.
That included a two-run home run in the first inning and a leadoff triple in the seventh that led to the go-ahead run.
“I’m just taking it pitch by pitch, at-bat by at-bat, game by game,” Alex Kirilloff said. “I’m not trying to think about a hitting streak or anything like that. Just trying to control what you can control, play hard, hustle and have fun.”
Kirilloff was a first-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2016 but missed all last season after having Tommy John surgery on his elbow. At this point, you’d have to say he has already knocked the rust off from a year and a half of inactivity.
He is 26 for 73 (.356) during his hitting streak, boosting his season average to .317, and has at least one extra-base hit in 13 straight games. It is one sweet-looking left-handed stroke the 20-year-old has.
Probably the most impressive thing is his ability to go the opposite way with power. Of his six home runs this season, five have been to left or left-center.
“He’s got a really nice swing,” said Kernels Manager Toby Gardenhire. “He drives it the other way pretty well, uses the whole field. That’s kind of his thing. Likes to spray it all over the ballpark. You try and throw him away too many times, and that’s what he does. He can rip it the other way.”
“Just trying to get pitches to hit and put good swings on them,” Kirilloff said. “Making adjustments that need to be made. It’s tough not seeing live pitching for a year and a half, shaking that rust off. Pinpointing the adjustments that I need to make to be more consistent.”
The Kernels (17-15) won a second straight game in this five-game series. Jovani Moran (1-1) got the pitching victory in relief, with Carlos Suniaga the save.
He pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth. The teams play a day-night double-header Wednesday: the opener at noon and the nightcap at 6:35.
Both games will be seven innings.
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