116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Kernels still in striking distance of playoffs
CEDAR RAPIDS - Through it all, this ballclub is still only three games out of a Midwest League playoff spot.
"I think we're going (to get) in," predicted Cedar Rapids Kernels infielder Ricky Alvarez, after his team's 3-2 loss Tuesday night to Quad Cities at Memorial Stadium. "We're playing good. I guess it's three games out. It's still possible, you know?"
The Kernels are 48-59 overall, 16-21 in the second half. Their play has been uneven at best.
Their starting pitching rotation is in shambles, thanks to promotions (Max Russell) and injuries (Heath Nichols). And yet they're right there, three games behind third-place Clinton for what is the second and final playoff spot in the division.
There are 33 games remaining in the second half, including another one Wednesday night with Quad Cities, which has the best overall record in the MWL (63-43) and has already wrapped up a postseason berth.
"We've played better baseball lately," said Kernels Manager Brent Del Chiaro. "Nobody has run away with (playoff spots). So the fact that we're hanging around is good. If we can get on a nice little streak, we've got a chance. If we keep playing like we have the last three games or so, I really believe we've got a chance."
They had a chance in this one, thanks to the good work of starting pitcher P.J. Jang (1-3), who threw 119 pitches, over 80 for strikes. He gave up two runs in seven innings, with an eighth-inning run against reliever Beau Brooks turning out to be the difference.
Quad Cities got three hits and an RBI from second baseman Kolten Wong, the parent St. Louis Cardinals No. 1 draft pick in June. The 22nd-overall pick raised his batting average over the .300 mark.
"He's a baseball player," Quad Cities Manager Johnny Rodriguez said. "He plays the game the right way."