Twins Minor League Report (9/11): Decisive Game Three
Image courtesy of Photo of Tommy Watkins and Royce Lewis by Mr. Cedar Rapids himself, Steve BuhrKERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 1, Quad Cities 6 (QC wins series 2-1)
Kernels starter Tyler Wells posted a 5-3 record with a 3.11 ERA in 75 1/3 innings with the team this year. He walked fewer than three batters per nine innings. The playoffs for Wells, though, have been a different story. Wells got roughed up by Burlington last week, surrendering eight runs on ten hits and a walk and only recorded six outs.
Tonight wasn't as bad, but it certainly wasn't good. Wells retired the first batter, but then walked the next three. A two-out double cleared the bases. Wells settled in after that, sending the next eight batters back to the bench. He did allow another pair of hits and a sacrifice fly to push his tally to four runs. He did manage three strikeouts, all of the swinging variety.
In the meantime, the hitters weren't posing much of a threat. Travis Blankenhorn singled in the first. An Aaron Whitefield walk pushed Blankenhorn to second. Both were stranded when Lewin Diaz and Caleb Hamilton went down on strikes.
Shane Kennedy's single in the second was erased when he was caught stealing. The Kernels then went down in order in the third, fourth, fifth and six innings.
Bryan Sammons relieved Wells and pitched the next 3.1 innings. He struck out three, but worked around five base runners, allowing none to score. But only thanks to Max Cordy, who came in with the bases loaded and got a strikeout.
Aaron Whitefield put the Kernels on the board with a solo home run to lead off the seventh inning. Whitefield, a former softball player in Australia, was primarily known for his speed coming into the season. He batted .298 in the GCL in 2016, but hit only two home runs and slugged .366. It's been a new Whitefield this season, as he hit 11 home runs. His OBP has dropped as his slugging has risen, though, and his OPS went from .737 to .732. After stealing 31 bases in 51 games this year, Whitefield stole (only) 33 in 117 games.
An eighth-inning Shane Carrier double didn't result in any runs and though Cordy was able to escape the eighth, he couldn't get himself out of trouble in the ninth inning, allowing a walk and three singles that pushed the Quad Cities lead to 6-1.
Whitefield walked to start the bottom of the ninth. But Diaz struck out and both Hamilton and Jimmy Kernigan grounded out to end the game.
Royce Lewis continued and finished his playoff struggles, going 0-4 tonight and he has gone hitless since returning from a hamstring injury.
Though the season didn't conclude the way Kernels fans hoped, it was another successful year that promises more hope for next year. 2016 first-round pick Alex Kirilloff should spend a majority of his year in Cedar Rapids after missing this year with Tommy John surgery. Royce Lewis will likely be back to begin the season.
Also joining the 2018 version will be many members who helped the Elizabethton Twins win the Appy League title last week.
So take the winter off, except for the Arizona Fall League, and be ready for more minor league fun next season!
- Cory Engelhardt, h2oface and Respy like this