116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Errors cost Kernels again in late loss to Great Lakes
CEDAR RAPIDS - They're not out of the first-half playoff race, but the Cedar Rapids Kernels aren't exactly in it, either. Especially the way they're playing.
"We're not very good," Kernels Manager Brent Del Chiaro said before last night's 8-7 loss to Great Lakes at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Believe it or not, the Kernels were 10 games above .500 after a May 9 win over Beloit. Since then, they've lost 20 of 28 to fall to 27-31 with 12 games left in the Midwest League's first half.
Despite the horrid stretch, Cedar Rapids entered last night four games out of second place and the final first-half playoff berth in the Western Division.
"With everything we've been through ... we have an outside shot," Del Chiaro said. "But we've got to play better."
This team hasn't hit much all season and has stopped hitting in the clutch completely. Pitching has kept it in games, though it has struggled to the tune of seven runs allowed per game this month.
Then there's defense. The Kernels committed 23 errors in April but that jumped to 41 in May and nine more in six games in June.
That included two biggies - and a passed ball - last night that led to three unearned runs that allowed Great Lakes (32-26) to rally from 6-2 hole after four innings. The Kernels lost despite getting home runs from David Harris, Marcus Nidiffer, Brandon Decker (a three-run shot) and Jeremy Cruz.
The Loons won the game with a run in the ninth driven in by Preston Mattingly, son of Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly.
"What's driving me nuts right now is that we're beating ourselves," Del Chiaro said. "The whole month of May and now in June, we're just beating ourselves, doing stupid things on the field. Missing signs, making errors, and the errors are mental errors. It's driving us up the wall right now as a (coaching) staff. It's tough to watch. It really is."
The teams play the second game of their three-game series today at noon.