CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s the anatomy of success for a baseball club.
Hit it some, field it more and pitch. Pitch the heck out of it.
If you want to know why the Cedar Rapids Kernels own the best second-half record in the Midwest League, it’s because they’ve been doing that latter thing. Especially the starters.
It was Tyler Watson’s turn Thursday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium to give the Kernels a terrific outing. That’s if you consider seven innings, three hits and a run allowed terrific.
Cedar Rapids wiped out Clinton, 9-1.
“Our pitchers have been great,” said Kernels Manager Toby Gardenhire. “Our guys have swung the bats and done a nice job offensively, but our pitching has kind of carried us. When you have a pitcher who goes out there and gives us innings like some of these guys have been doing, that’s great.”
The Kernels have a six-man rotation of Watson, Edwar Colina, Randy Dobnak, Bailey Ober, Blayne Enlow and Jordan Balazovic, and they’ve all been doing damage to their opponents. This was the 11th quality start in C.R.’s last 13 games.
A quality start is defined as a starter pitching six or more innings and allowing three runs or less. The combined earned run average for the starters in this span is 1.71.
“Colina’s been great. We’ve gotten it from Enlow, (Bryan) Sammons before he got called up (to high-A Fort Myers). Dobnak, too,” Gardenhire said. “All of our starters have gone out there and given us these great games. And they’ve consistently been doing it, which is really nice to see.
“Then our bullpen has been getting better, as you’ve seen. Our pitching has done a really nice job in the second half. It has been fun to watch.”
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The Kernels (56-46, 24-9) got two home runs from shortstop Michael Davis and one from Andrew Bechtold to win for the eighth time in their last nine games. They went into Thursday with a three-game lead over Beloit and Peoria in the Midwest League’s Western Division.
The teams play again Friday night at 6:35. Bailey Ober is scheduled to start for Cedar Rapids, and he has been white hot of late, giving up just one run in his last three starts, striking out 34 in 21 2/3 innings.
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