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Kernels Nuggets: Haar's Homers Help

Maybe it was because Hall of Famer Rod Carew threw him some batting practice before the game, but third baseman Bryan Haar had one of those special games that players dream about... by the end of the 2nd inning. He went 2-3 with two home runs and seven RBI.

The Cedar Rapids Kernels won a 9-5, rain-shortened game at Perfect Game Field on Saturday night. The game had a 31-minute rain delay in the early innings, but after another 30-minute delay in the top of the 7th, the game was called. Three hours later, it’s still raining in Cedar Rapids.

Attached Image: Haar1a.jpg

Following the game, Haar said that he hadn’t had a game like this in a long time. “It’s been since high school that I hit two home runs in one game.”

In the first inning, Zach Granite led off with a solid single up the middle. One pitch later, Engelb Vielma doubled down the right field line. One batter later, Haar came up and launched one. He said, “I got an offspeed pitch the first at-bat, so it went to left center.”

In the bottom of the 2nd inning, the Kernels cleanup hitter did just that. With the bases loaded, he had a long at-bat that ended with a long home run to dead center field, just out of the reach of a leaping LumberKings’ center fielder Aaron Barbosa.

Haar acknowledged he wasn’t sure if the ball was caught. He said, “I thought he caught it. Oh man, I got nervous for a second.”

His approach at the plate with runners on base was certainly sound. He said, “(With) guys in scoring position, I tried to get a pitch up, especially with the wind blowing out tonight. I tried to drive it to the middle of the field.”

I don’t know if Bryan Haar is a superstitious, but getting to replicate his pregame from Saturday each day would be great. He told the story:

“I was hitting off the tee before the game, and (Rod Carew) had to get loose before the first pitch. He was like, ‘Alright, step in there.’ I took about ten swings off of him, and it was pretty cool. It was a great experience.”

For the record, Rod Carew threw a strike to Kernels infielder Tanner Vavra for the game’s First Pitch.

Haar was very much knowledgeable of who Rod Carew is and his place in Minnesota Twins history, and in Major League Baseball’s history. It was not the first time he had met the Hall of Famer. (Side Note – Twins Daily was able to interview Carew, and that will be posted here in coming days.)

Catcher Bo Altobelli hit his first home run of the season, a solo home run to lead off the 2nd inning. Vielma went 1-2 with a walk and the double was his tenth.

Ryan Eades got the start for the Kernels. He had a quick 1-2-3 inning in the first frame. He looked impressive. His fastball sat between 90 and 92 and touched 94 early in the game. He showed a slider at 83, and a changeup at about 82. His curveball was in the low-to-mid 70s.

All four of those were quality pitches. He gave up one run in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings and then two runs in the fifth inning. He has the pitches, but he seemed to make a bad pitch or two each inning that came back to haunt him. But, he lasted through the first rain delay and then through five innings to record his fifth win. He gave up five runs (4 earned) on seven hits. He walked none, hit one and struck out five.

Brandon Bixler worked 1.1 scoreless innings before the rains came. He struck out two.

KERNELS NUGGETS

I had the opportunity to chat with reliever Todd Van Steensel after the game. He absolutely loves being a closer. His high leg kick is a bit of a timing mechanism for him. However, he will be working on shortening up somewhat when there are runners on base to help against the running game.


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