116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Kernels ended the week the way they began it: in the High-A Central League playoffs. That’s good.
They ended the week with a pair of losses and a whole bunch of strikeouts. That’s bad.
A 6-2 loss Sunday afternoon to Wisconsin featured a bevy of Ks: 17 of them, to be specific. That’s on top of the 16 strikeouts Kernels batters incurred in a Saturday night defeat.
“They’ve got some good pitchers,” Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman said. “It was a combination of that and some tough at-bats. The last two nights just weren’t great.”
Dinkelman pointed to the bottom of the second inning as a key to the game. The Kernels got a single and two walks to begin the frame, with a wild pitch scoring a run for a 2-0 lead.
But Cedar Rapids couldn’t bring in any more runs, and Wisconsin rallied. Joey Wiemer’s two-run home run against brand new relief pitcher Aaron Rozek (0-1) tied the game in the third, then Felix Valerio’s solo shot in the fifth put the Timber Rattlers ahead for good.
“It kind of felt like the momentum swung there when we couldn’t get another run (in the second),” Dinkelman said.
The bottom line is the Kernels (53-43) are a game in front of Lake County for second place overall in the High-A Central and the final of two championship series spots. Quad Cities will get the first spot, as it has a 63-31 record, one of the best in the minor leagues.
There are 24 regular-season games remaining, four six-game series, including one this coming week at Beloit.
“We’re still hanging around,” Dinkelman said. “When you win four out of six in a series, it gives you a chance to hopefully make the playoffs. We’ve got four series left. If we can win four more series, we’ll see where we’re at in the end.”
Rozek was promoted before Sunday’s game from low-Class A Fort Myers. He was an independent league signee this summer by the parent Minnesota Twins.
Dinkelman said pitcher Matt Canterino, who went back on the Injured List this weekend, is believed to have tendinitis in his right, throwing arm. After emerging as a bona fide prospect, Canterino has been limited to just six starts this season, missing over two months, then returning last week to make one successful start.
Dinkelman also said catcher Jair Camargo (on the IL) is close to returning to active duty. Outfielder DaShawn Keirsey Jr., another IL guy, should return by season’s end.
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