CEDAR RAPIDS — The playoff starting pitching rotation for the Cedar Rapids Kernels hasn’t been set. With three weeks to go in the Midwest League’s regular season, that’ll get figured out sooner than later.
Let’s just say Andrew Cabezas wants to be a part of it.
He threw six strong innings Sunday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Stadium, retiring 15 of the final 16 hitters he faced to earn a 4-2 win over Beloit.
“The last three or four outings haven’t gone as planned for me,” Cabezas said. “I was kind of on a roll, then it was like a roller coaster the last three or four outings. It felt good today. I’m pretty happy that we got the ‘W.’”
A product of national college power Miami (Fla.), Cabezas has been here all season and taken his turn on the mound every six days without much exception. His record of 5-6 isn’t scintillating but his earned run average of 3.77 is solid.
When he’s throwing strikes and mixing his fastball, breaking ball and changeup well, he can be really, really good. As in starting-a-playoff-game good.
The Kernels (68-51, 29-20) know they’ll play Quad Cities in the best-of-3 Western Division semifinals the first week of September. Cabezas is one of those guys who won a Pioneer League championship last year with the Rookie-level Elizabethton Twins.
“Yes, he’s in the discussion,” Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman said. ”We’ve got him, (Luis) Rijo, (Matt) Canterino, (Kody) Funderburk … We’ve got some options there. I don’t think we’ve nailed it down, yet, for sure. With a couple of weeks left here, we can kind of set it up how we want and figure out who we want to throw those first couple of games.”
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“Just trying to keep up the momentum,” Cabezas said. “We won the championship in E-town, so I know how sweet that was. I want the Kernels to get rings, too.”
Gilberto Celestino had two more hits Sunday, including a home run, for Cedar Rapids. He went 5-for-5 Saturday night in a win over Beloit, as his batting average climbs toward the .280 mark.
For a guy who was hitting under .200 on May 10, it has been a complete and impressive turnaround for the 20-year-old outfielder.
Erik Cha threw three scoreless innings in his Kernels debut to get the save for Cedar Rapids. He was promoted from Elizabethton before Sunday’s game, with reliever Brian Rapp going on the Injured List.
The teams complete their series Monday night at 6:35.
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