CEDAR RAPIDS — Label it the Dinkelman Effect.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels have won back-to-back games and scored a bunch of runs since Manager Toby Gardenhire ceded third-base coaching duties to hitting coach Brian Dinkelman. That included three consecutive homers and four overall in the eighth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s 15-4 slapping of Wisconsin at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“I don’t know if it’s the Dinkelman Effect,” Dinkelman said with a grin. “Or if it’s that the Gardenhire Effect is out.”
“Make sure you use that quote,” co-pitching coach Justin Willard said, laughing.
Considering the superstitious nature of baseball, you can bet Dinkelman will return to the third-base coaching box Thursday night for the finale of this three-game series and nine-game homestand. That’s unless his rotator cuff is hurting after waving around 21 guys the last two days.
Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit Wednesday and everyone sans Jean Carlos Arias reached base via hit or walk twice or more. The Kernels (25-25) scored nine times in the eighth, including the back-to-back-to-back jacks by Jose Miranda, Jacob Pearson and Robby Rinn.
Akil Baddoo followed three batters later with a two-run shot. Miranda also doubled twice and drove in six.
The 19-year-old infielder from Puerto Rico has jetted his batting average from .165 on May 12 to .232.
“I think I changed my mindset, especially,” said Miranda. “I’m trying to let the ball come to me more. I was being too much up front with a lot of pitches: fastball, curveballs. Now I’m just trying to let the ball come in and go from there.”
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Miranda was Minnesota’s Competitive Balance ‘B’-round draft pick in 2016 and led the Rookie-level Appalachian League with 11 home runs in 54 games last season. He said experiencing cold weather for the first time also was a factor in his slow start to the Midwest League season.
“Right now, I have a lot of confidence,” he said “Much more confidence than before.”
“The only thing I’ve really worked with him on is pitch selection, because he was getting himself in bad counts early, especially with runners on base,” Dinkelman said. “He was chasing early, then trying to fight. He’s getting himself better pitches to hit.”
Jovani Moran, Calvin Faucher and Jose Martinez combined for a very strong performance out of the bullpen for the Kernels, with Moran (3-2) earning the win with 2 1/3 shutout innings, striking out five. Faucher retired all six batters he faced, and Martinez three of four.
The game was delayed for 26 minutes in the fourth inning because of rain.
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