Minor League Sports

Mr. Tough Luck: Bryan Sammons pitches well again, takes the loss for Cedar Rapids Kernels

CEDAR RAPIDS — There are some overrated statistics in baseball. You can choose your personal favorite.

But right at the top of the list has got to be wins and losses for pitchers.

You can throw well, not get any run support or defensive support and lose. You can pitch OK or a little less than OK and still get a win because you get a ton of support.

“Yeah, it’s tough when you know you threw well and end up losing,” said Bryan Sammons, after his Cedar Rapids Kernels were shutout Sunday afternoon by Lake County, 4-0, at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “But that’s baseball. Some days you are going to have that ... Then there are days where you struggle, and the offense is going to pick you up.”

Sammons is Exhibit A for that win-loss theory. He has been C.R.’s best starting pitcher, a guy who has continued to get better and who ranks third in the Midwest League in earned run average.

That number dropped a couple of points Sunday, to 2.32. But he has only a 5-5 mark, taking the ‘L’ here because his teammates were limited to just three hits by three Lake County pitchers.

“As well as he’s thrown, yeah, that’s tough,” said Kernels Manager Toby Gardenhire.

Sammons’ only blemishes came in the seventh inning, when he allowed a pair of runs, one earned. The earned one came when Lake County slugger Will Benson, Cleveland’s first-round pick in 2016, smoked a 3-0 fastball down the middle over the fence in right for a solo home run with one out that broke a scoreless tie.

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Though he’s only hitting .175, one thing Benson can do is hit a ball a long way. This was his 14th homer of the season.

“(Him green lighted) really wasn’t that surprising, especially since they’ve been struggling offensively,” Sammons said. “I figured he might swing. Just trying to get it over the plate, get back into the count, and he put a good swing on it.”

The Kernels (48-45 overall, 16-8 second half) couldn’t touch Lake County starter Gregori Vasquez, who did exactly what Sammons did: throw strikes, mix pitches and change speeds. Trey Cabbage’s double was the only hit Vasquez allowed in six innings.

Cedar Rapids got a pair of singles in the ninth, but that was it. A tough-luck loss for a guy who has pitched in it a lot this season.

“Especially the past month and a half or so, I feel like I’ve been throwing the ball a lot better,” said Sammons, an eighth-round draft pick last year out of Western Carolina. “I’m commanding my stuff a lot better than I was. I was giving up runs early in the season, but I feel like I’m executing better now and getting deeper into games. That’s always a good thing.”

“Sammons has been great, really consistent,” Gardenhire said. “He was great today, awesome. Made one bad pitch after falling behind to the big guy. That was pretty much all they needed.”

The teams conclude their three-game series Monday at noon.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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