CEDAR RAPIDS — Maybe the five days in a row they didn’t play took away their mojo. It’s got to be something.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels concluded a disappointing week-long homestand Thursday night with a disappointing 10-5 loss to Burlington at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Bees knocked out newbie starting pitcher Bailey Ober with a six-run first inning to win their third game in this four-game series. Ober was activated to the roster from Minnesota Twins extended spring training earlier Thursday.
Cedar Rapids (8-6) won its first six games of the Midwest League season but has gone just 2-6 since. That includes a 2-5 homestand here.
“We haven’t been as good as we were before,” said Manager Toby Gardenhire. “But that’s baseball. You’re going to have some ups and downs. This is just one of those down periods, I guess. We played so well early. It’s tough, you want that to happen all the time. But it’s not always going to be like that. You have a layoff like we did, the guys come back, it’s going to be a little different. We’re still kind of trying to find our way back in.”
Gardenhire and third baseman Andrew Bechtold were ejected at the conclusion of the third, arguing for what certainly appeared to be a foul ball off of Bechtold’s body. Neither umpire saw the apparent ricochet, with Burlington catcher Harrison Wenson picked up the ball just in front of the plate and throwing Bechtold out at first base.
Just one of those nights.
“It’s still early in the season,” Gardenhire said. “You see guys that are still trying to figure things out, and that’s totally understandable. We’re fine. We’re still a good baseball team. We’re still OK.”
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The most problematic thing about this homestand was a general lack of good pitching. The Kernels allowed one total run in their two victories but 44 in their five losses.
They hit the road for four games, beginning Friday, at Quad Cities, returning home May 1 against the South Bend Cubs. Flamethrowing Brusdar Graterol is expected to start Friday night’s game after flying into town Wednesday from extended spring training.
Graterol, 19, is Minnesota’s No. 5 prospect, according to Baseball America. The right-hander from Venezuela can hit 100 miles per hour with his fastball.
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