The Great Lakes Loons (32-62) gave up 2-runs in the ninth, dropping the opening game of a 3-game home series with a 2-1 loss to the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Minnesota Twins) who are managed by Toby Gardenhire, the son of Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire in front of 3,529 at Dow Diamond tonight.
Clinging to a 1-0 lead, Loons closer Sven Schuller came in to close out the ninth inning, but surrendered a lead-off walk to Andrew Bechtold, who was forced out at second when Jared Akins beat out the double play at first for a fielders choice, when Gardenhire decided to pinch-hit Ben Rodriguez for Kernels catcher David Benuelos, and the move immediately paid off for Gardenhire as Rodriguez singled, moving Akins to third; before Gardenhire made another shrewd move, pulling shortstop Ariel Montesino (who was 2 for 3 in the game) for pinch-hitter Jacob Pearson, who roped a 2-RBI single to score Akins and Rodriguez for a 2-1 Kernels lead in the top of the ninth.
Schuller (BS1, 0-2, 3.44 ERA) picked up his first blown save, along with his second loss of the season after giving up 2-runs on 2-hits and 1-walk in the ninth inning.
The 2-runs in the ninth would break a 33 1/3 scoreless streak for the Loons' pitching staff, which fell just an inning-and-a-third shy of the franchise record of 34 2/3 innings back in the 2009 Midwest League season.
With little offense from either team throughout the early part of the game, the Kernels threatened in the fourth when first baseman Robby Rinn singled to lead off the inning and moved to third on another single by Cedar Rapids second baseman Jose Miranda to put runners at the corners with nobody out, but Great Lakes starter Alfredo Tavarez managed to strike out the next two batters, before forcing a slow grounder off the bat of Akins, which Tavarez fielded and threw to first, working out of the jam in the top of the fourth to preserve a 29-inning scoreless streak by the Loons' defense.
Tavarez (3.66 ERA) had a very productive night on the bump for the Loons, allowing just 5-hits and 1-walk, while striking out 5-batters through 5-innings of work.
Loons reliever Dan Jagiello (2.83 ERA) replaced Tavarez to start the sixth and was equally impressive, allowing just 1-hit, while striking out 3-batters throughout the next 2-innings, while late-reliever Darien Nunez allowed 1-hit, with 1-strikeout in the eighth inning.
The Loons had finally managed to plate a run in the seventh when Great Lakes catcher Hunter Feduccia laced a lead-off double down the left field line, then advanced to third after tagging up when first baseman Brock Carpenter popped out to right field, before Feduccia was eventually driven in on a bloop double down the right field line off the bat of speedy Loons CF Brayan Morales to give the Loons a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh.
Morales led the Loons' offense, finishing 2 for 5 with an RBI and 1-stolen base, which leads the MWL with 46 swipes, eleven more than Bowling Green Hot Rods speedster Vidal Brujan, who has 35 thefts.
The Loons and Kernels will return to Dow Diamond for the second game of this 3-game series at 7:05 pm tomorrow night.
Cedar Rapids players celebrate 2-1 victory over the Loons: