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Cedar Rapids Kernels getting things turned around
Kernels had a successful 2-week road trip and came home to beat Peoria, 6-5, Tuesday night, their 5th win in a row
CEDAR RAPIDS — You might have to head to the ballpark sometime in the next couple of days just to re-acquaint yourself with these guys.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels were away from home for a while. Quite a while.
A two-week, 13-game road trip finally concluded over the weekend. It was a good road trip, as the Kernels went 9-4, winning four of six games at South Bend and five of seven at Quad Cities.
Cedar Rapids hosted the Peoria Chiefs on Tuesday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium and came away with a 6-5 win. It was the first of six against the St. Louis Cardinals affiliate, the first nooner of the Midwest League season on tap Wednesday.
Then it’s six more games at home next week against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Milwaukee’s high-Class A affiliate. The Kernels have played only 12 games at home thus far to 21 on the road.
It all evens out in the end: 66 both ways.
“Pretty good trip. Won both series,” Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman said. “We pitched pretty well, swung the bats OK at times. But we had shutouts two of the last three games at Quad Cities, so the pitching was pretty good.”
The successful trip has allowed Cedar Rapids to climb back within shouting distance of first place in the MWL’s Western Division at 19-15. It is tied for second place with South Bend.
Beloit leads the pack at 20-13, 1 1/2 games up on that pack.
“We’ve got a good group of guys in there,” said Kernels outfielder Kala’i Rosario. “We had a couple of rough weeks, but like, now, the first month in, we’re starting to get things rolling.”
“We lost that first one in South Bend in extra innings, then won four of the next five,” Dinkelman said. “We’ve turned it around a little bit, so hopefully we can keep it going this week.”
The best hitter on the road trip for the Kernels definitely was Rosario. The outfielder from Hawaii had 16 hits in 46 at-bats (.348) to bump his season batting average to .270.
He also walked 10 times. Cedar Rapids continues to generally lag in the bottom two or three in most offensive categories in the Midwest League.
“Up and down,” Dinkelman said. “Some days we swing the bats good and have good at-bats. Then other days we don’t do a whole lot. Rosario’s been swinging it well of late. Ben Ross has been good, though he hasn’t had much luck. He hit three balls 105 (miles per hour), but got nothing to show for it.”
Pitching wise, the Kernels have moved up to third in earned run average at 3.63. They rank middle of the pack in the 12-team league in most major pitching categories.
The starting rotation of Jordan Carr, Alejandro Hidalgo, Kyle Jones, Jaylen Nowlin, Pierson Ohl, Marco Raya and Orlando Rodriguez are keeping their team in most every game.
Raya, a touted Minnesota Twins prospect, has been limited to three innings or so per start right now because he had a bit of an injury in spring training and joined the Kernels from extended spring training about three weeks into the season.
The Kernels announced a couple of roster moves prior to Tuesday night’s game.
Catcher Kyle Schmidt was activated from the 60-day injured list at Double-A Wichita and sent to Cedar Rapids, where he was placed on the development list.
Relief pitcher Matthew Swain was activated from the temporarily inactive list. Reliever Matt Mullenbach, a Waukee High School graduate who pitched last season with the Kernels as well, was given his outright release by the Twins.
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