CEDAR RAPIDS — When a guy hasn’t pitched in over two weeks, you never know what you’re going to get from him. But the Cedar Rapids Kernels got a lot Tuesday night from Edwar Colina.
The right hander from Venezuela threw five shutout innings and notched his first Midwest League win as the Kernels toppled Burlington, 3-1, at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
This was a bonus for C.R., considering Colina hadn’t pitched since way back on April 7 against Quad Cities. A brutal stretch of weather forced the Kernels to go five full days without a game, and they’re still trying to catch up everyone in their starting rotation.
“It was hard for me, because I want to pitch,” Colina said. “But I worked with the pitching coach, and I threw a couple of live days in the bullpen, so I was ready for this.”
Yeah, that was apparent. Colina worked around a pair of walks in the first inning, then got a strikeout to escape a bases-loaded situation in the second.
He retired nine more straight hitters from there, mixing a low-90s sinking fastball with a changeup, curveball and especially devastating slider.
“Tonight, I threw a very good breaking pitch during the game,” the 21-year-old said. “I stayed behind in the count a lot of the time, but I recovered and threw my breaking pitch and got outs.”
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“Colina threw the ball really good,” said Kernels Manager Toby Gardenhire. “He’s got great stuff. His issue is whether he can command it. Tonight, you saw a little bit of both. There were times when he lost it a little bit, then there were more times when he was able to command it. He was able to get the big outs when he needed them.”
Gardenhire said it has been difficult to piece together a rotation with all of the time off his team has had.
“You’re flipping coins and guessing on pushing guys back and flipping guys,” he said. “We’re just trying to do the best we can with it. (Colina) ended up with a long layoff, which is tough. We threw him for a couple of innings of extra work on the side on one of the days off when we were able to get on the field a little bit. He threw some live BP stuff. So that’s why we moved him back more than we pushed some of the others guys back.”
The Kernels (8-4) scored twice in the second for the only runs they’d need, getting an RBI double from Shane Carrier and sacrifice fly from newcomer Jean-Carlos Arias in his first game since coming in from Minnesota Twins extended spring training. Royce Lewis had a run-scoring hit in the eighth for insurance.
Jose Martinez and Kevin Marnon followed Colina to the mound, with Marnon pitching shutout eighth and ninth innings for his first save. The teams play again Wednesday night at 6:35.
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