CEDAR RAPIDS — They broke the scoreless streak. Then they broke the losing streak.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels dropped the completion of a suspended game Thursday night, 4-2, to Peoria at Veterans Memorial Stadium but won the ensuing seven-inning affair, 4-0.
A run in the first inning of the opener ended C.R.’s streak of 30 consecutive scoreless inning. The nightcap ended a four-game losing streak.
“That first game, we had a lot of baserunners, a lot of good swings. We just couldn’t drive anybody in,” said Kernels Manager Toby Gardenhire. “But we did do a better job than we have in the last few games of getting guys on base. The second game, we did a little bit better of driving guys in. It was encouraging, yes.”
The teams were suspended by rain Wednesday night in a scoreless game in the bottom of the first inning, with C.R. runners on first and second with one out and a 1-2 count on Trevor Larnach. He struck out looking at the first pitch Thursday night, but Ben Rodriguez picked up everyone with an ensuing RBI double that deflected off the glove of a diving shortstop and into short left field.
That rare run appeared to be enough until Peoria rallied for four runs in the eighth against losing relief pitcher Calvin Faucher (4-4), despite having two outs and none on. The Chiefs strung together a pair of walks, three singles and a double.
The Kernels did score in the bottom of the eighth and had the tying run at the plate but couldn’t tie things. They stranded nine guys in the game to lose their fourth in a row and for the fifth time in six games.
A lack of clutch hitting has been an issue for this club much of the Midwest League season. The recent run of zeroes (four times shutout in their last six games) has come mostly because of a lack of hitting, period.
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Going into Thursday, Cedar Rapids’ team batting average in its last 10 games was a not-awful .243. In its last five, it was a pretty awful .209.
The beginning of Game 2, if you will, showed encouraging offensive signs, however. The Kernels scored three runs in the first inning, thanks to a Rodriguez two-run double and bases-loaded walk to Andrew Bechtold.
An Akil Baddoo triple and Ryan Jeffers double chased Peoria starting pitcher Andrew St. Clair in the second.
Despite their recent struggles, the Kernels remain in solid shape when it comes to qualifying for the MWL playoffs. They are tied with Peoria for first place in the Western Division’s second half.
The Chiefs qualified for the postseason in the first half, so they are a non-factor in this race. C.R. is two games up on Quad Cities and Beloit, four and a half up on Kane County and five clear of Wisconsin. Again, QC doesn’t factor because it also was a first-half qualifier.
Of the other teams mentioned, the top two at the end of the regular season get in.
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