Jimenez Continues to be Kernels' Good Luck Charm

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

Eswarlin Jimenez was excellent in the Kernels' Tuesday night win over Burlington.


By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS — The smiles were everywhere in the home clubhouse and the music was blasting. Batboy Jon Teig did his celebratory postgame “Peanut Butter Jelly” dance.

Those are signs the Cedar Rapids Kernels won. Which is a sign Eswarlin Jimenez was on the mound.

In a second half full of losses, the Kernels just keep winning when Jimenez pitches. His eight strong innings helped beat back Kane County, 5-1, Monday night before 1,568 fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Cedar Rapids has won the left-hander’s last seven starts and eight of his last nine. Keep in mind, this is a club that is a Midwest League worst 47-73 overall, including a woeful 15-35 in the second half.

What a good-luck charm. Too bad the dude can’t throw every game, huh?

“He goes out there and has great tempo,” said Kernels manager Jamie Burke. “He keeps our guys on their toes (defensively), pitches to contact. You can’t ask for any more than that. He throws strikes.”

Last night, he threw a bunch of quality strikes. Jimenez (7-4) retired the first 12 hitters he faced, coaxing big double-play grounders in the fifth and sixth to limit and eliminate damage, respectively.

Frazier Hall’s three-run home run in the first inning gave him cushion. Abel Baker’s two-run blast in the sixth essentially gave him the win.

“My location was good,” said Jimenez, with the help of teammate/roomate Frank DeJiulio. “I was able to hit my spots tonight and stay ahead in the count.”

Jimenez, a 20-year-old making a significant jump to low-A ball from the Rookie Dominican Summer League, had to be placed on the disabled list in June because of a recurrent blister on his left index finger. That’s obviously not an issue any more.

He hasn’t allowed an earned run over his last 13 2/3 innings, and his team hasn’t lost a game he has started since June 6. That’s pretty good, enough for Burke to call him the Kernels’ most consistent starter this season.

Jimenez has a nice earned run average of 3.45.

“I think the location with his fastball is probably his best pitch,” Burke said. “His slider is pretty good, too. He really can command all three of his pitches (fastball, curve, changeup), and that’s why he goes deep into these ballgames.”

The Kernels have Tuesday off, then begin a three-game home series against the Quad Cities River Bandits, an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

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