116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Man, this game is something. Really, really something.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels were close to the ignominy of being no-hit twice Saturday night. Way too close.
They didn’t get a hit at all in the first game of a doubleheader against Wisconsin at Veterans Memorial Stadium and didn’t pick one up in the nightcap until the sixth inning. Whew.
But, naturally, baseball being baseball, the Kernels followed up that woebegone offensive performance by doing something extraordinary Sunday. That’s extraordinary in a good way this time.
Try two grand slams in a 10-2 caging of the Timber Rattlers before 2,001 fans at The Popper. Just crazy, wild, funky, whack.
“Yesterday, everybody was pretty down, getting no-hit through I don’t even know how many innings,” said Kernels outfielder Michael Helman. “Just around the dugout and everything, it was pretty demoralizing. But we put together good at-bats (today), just tried to barrel balls. We’ve been doing that well as a team, but a lot of them weren’t falling. It sucks, but it’s just part of the game. All you can do is control what you can control.”
Helman’s grand slam capped a six-run eighth inning and quite a 24-hour overall turnaround for the Kernels (10-14). Wander Javier’s bases-loaded blast in the third put Cedar Rapids ahead for good.
Developing into a super-utility type, Helman is an infielder by trade who has played all three outfield spots this early season because of injuries and things. Not a power hitter by any means, he has four homers in just 22 games.
“Just having a good approach and sticking to it,” he said. “Not trying to get too anxious for first pitches I shouldn’t be swinging at. I typically don’t walk a whole lot, but I feel like I’ve been seeing the ball pretty well. Just putting together good at-bats.”
The Kernels won the first and last games of this six-game series. They had a rough go of it at the plate, recording just 22 hits, an average of 3.7 per game.
They had six Sunday, including two real big ones.
“I thought today we came out and swung the bats pretty well,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “We got some runners on base, then Wander has the big hit with the grand slam. Then we add more there in the eighth inning with Helman.
“So it’s just the ups and downs of baseball every day. That’s why you try and be as consistent as possible. So you don’t go through many peaks and valleys.”
Owen Griffith (2-1) got the pitching win in relief for Cedar Rapids, with Melvi Acosta earning his second save. The Kernels hit the road for two weeks: six games at Fort Wayne and then six at Beloit.
Their next home game is June 15 against the South Bend Cubs.
To fortify their pitching staff, the Kernels have received reliever Jonathan Cheshire from Double-A Wichita and reliever Carson Shreve from Low-A Fort Myers. Cheshire began the season in Cedar Rapids.
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