C.R. Kernels end homestand with 4-0 shutout of Kane County

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Jake Mauer had a bag of ice in one hand and his uniform pants in the other after Monday afternoon’s game.

An injury? Not quite.

Apparently some wise guy played a trick on the Cedar Rapids Kernels manager. All Mauer knows is he ended up with bubblegum all over his trousers.

Hence, the ice — which wasn’t working, by the way.

“I’m going to do a DNA test to see whose gum it is,” Mauer said.

The skipper said that with a devilish smile, which showed he was in a good mood for the first time in a little while. A 4-0 shutout of Kane County at Veterans Memorial Stadium was the reason.

Eddie Del Rosario, Anthony McIver and Tom Hackimer combined on a seven-hitter to end C.R.’s three-game losing streak. The club, which embarks on a six-game road trip to Lake County and Fort Wayne that begins Wednesday, went 4-4 on its eight-game homestand.

It was McIver who was especially key in this one, as he bridged the gap between starter Del Rosario and closer Hackimer with shutout innings in the sixth, seventh and eighth. The big lefty has been good in a variety of roles since joining the Kernels from extended spring training in mid-May.

“He’s been good,” Mauer said. “The last couple nights, when the game was in the balance, we were like ‘Should we use him? Should we not?’ Really he’s, if not the, certainly one of the better guys we’ve had in the bullpen. We need some other guys to step up and give us innings. If we want to get on any kind of streak here, we can’t have just two or three guys we can put out there. That puts a lot of pressure on your starters.”

Mauer mentioned how the 6-foot-5 McIver’s fastball has improved since spring training. It generally sits in the 92-mile-per-hour range.

A slider and changeup give him a three-pitch mix.

“Other than hard work, it’s been trusting my pitches and knowing what I do best,” said McIver, a 15th-round draft pick of the parent Minnesota Twins last year out of the University of San Diego. “Knowing what my role is. Just going out there and throwing strikes and letting the defense do the work most of the time.

“I think at the beginning of spring training, I was probably upper-80s with my fastball. Maybe 90. But I’ve been sticking with the training-room stuff, doing my own arm-care program. It’s working. Now it’s just sticking with the routine that I have since I’ve seen those numbers.”

Del Rosario (1-2) gave up four hits and five walks in his five-inning stint, but somehow went unscored upon. Runs in the third and fourth gave Cedar Rapids a 2-0 lead, then Zander Wiel created important cushion with a two-run home run in the eighth.

The Kernels are 45-43 overall, 9-10 in the Midwest League’s second half.

“That home run by Zander was big,” Mauer said. “He had a couple of walks today, too. I thought the last two days his at-bats have been better. He’s working on making an adjustment at the plate, and he’s looked a little shorter (in his swing) the last three days. We get two RBIs from him every night, we’ll be in good shape.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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