116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Man, it's fun to watch Clark Beeker go about his craft.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher doesn't light up any radar guns, doesn't have the world's best breaking ball. The guy just mixes speeds and location and pumps quality strike after strike after strike.
Dude's a pitcher.
'He's a pitcher, that's exactly right,' said Kernels Manager Tommy Watkins, after another brilliant Beeker start went for naught in a 2-0, 10-inning loss Friday night to Kane County at Veterans Memorial Stadium. 'He goes out and competes every time. He gives us a chance. You always like it when he's on the mound.'
Especially lately. The 24-year-old right-hander followed up a complete-game shutout in his previous start with 8 2/3 innings of zeroes here.
Marcus Wilson's infield single to shortstop on his 104th pitch prevented him from going back-to-back nines. Beeker hasn't been scored upon in his last 25 2/3 innings, spanning parts of four starts.
'Definitely the past two starts I have used the changeup more,' he said. 'It was pretty non-existent the first two-thirds of the season, so that was just kind of a point of emphasis for me, something I wanted to work on. Use that changeup more, get a good feel for it. I think I've used that pretty well the last two games. Then it's just the same MO: keep guys off balance, mix speeds, try and fill up the strike zone.'
Beeker leads the Midwest League in innings pitched (121 2/3), shutouts (two) and moved into second in earned run average (2.15). As much as you'd love to see him stick around for next month's playoffs, the guy has earned his shot at a promotion to high-A Fort Myers.
'I think so, but I try not to worry about it,' he said. 'I'm going out there pitching mainly just to get deep into the game and give the bullpen a blow. Just try and keep us in the game as long as possible. See how the cards shake out after that.'
The Kernels (57-54, 18-23) were swept in this three-game series, scoring a grand total of two runs. Lack of offense has been a second-half theme for this club, which hits the road for four games at Wisconsin.
Cedar Rapids had but four singles and a double, having only one baserunner reach third base. And that was briefly.
Ben Rortvedt walked leading off the bottom of the 10th, went to second on a wild pitch and tried to score on Jordan Gore's two-out single to right. The safe play for Kane County right fielder Stephen Smith would have been to throw it back into the infield to prevent Gore from reaching scoring position.
Instead he threw a one-hop strike to home to nail Rortvedt by a wide margin. Rortvedt didn't even slide, he was out by so far.
'Yeah, he came out firing, but I messed that up,' Watkins said of his decision to send Rortvedt. 'You can't lose a game like that. You cannot lose a game like that.'
l Comments: (319) 398-8259; email@example.com