CEDAR RAPIDS — This was Ethan Mildren’s longest outing as a professional pitcher, though he doesn’t anticipate that milestone lasting very long.
“Each start, we’re just building up my pitch count a little bit more,” Mildren said, after his Cedar Rapids Kernels lost to Kane County, 2-1, on another cold and soggy night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I’m at the point where I’ll be able to go further into games. I’ve been feeling good every time out, so just looking forward to my next start.”
Mildren threw well enough to notch his first victory with the Kernels. The right-hander had a 1-0 lead going into the sixth inning but allowed a leadoff triple to Jake Hanneman.
He got a grounder to short with the infield playing in for the first out, then threw a good slider on the outer half of the plate that Yasiel Balaguert dribbled down the third-base line. Third baseman Bryan Haar let the ball go for awhile, but eventually picked it up in front of the bag and threw to first for the out.
Hammeman scored on the play, Mildren got the dreaded no decision.
“That one was tough,” he said. “He could have either picked it up and got the guy at first, or let it go and it it hits the bag and there’s a guy on first and one out. Or it could have gone foul and who knows what happens after that.”
Mildren, 22, was a 12th-round draft pick of the parent Minnesota Twins last June out of the University of Pittsburgh. He didn’t break spring training with the Kernels because there wasn’t a spot for him in the rotation.
That changed when Miguel Sulbaran was involved in a trade that sent him to the New York Yankees organization. Mildren was summoned to town in mid-April and has made three good starts.
The former first-team all-Big East Conference guy isn’t overpowering, with a fastball between 88 and 91 miles per hour. But he uses all of his pitches and throws strikes with them.
He gave up eight hits to Kane County (18-7) but pitched around those thanks in part to a pair of double plays.
“He’s a sinker-type guy who is going to get you a lot of groundballs,” said Kernels Manager Jake Mauer. “He’s been good. His last two outings, he has been really, really good.”
Kane County scored the winning run in the seventh against reliever Brandon Bixler (1-1) on a leadoff walk, a groundout and a couple of bunt hits. The Kernels (13-11) had the first two men reach in the bottom of the ninth, but Zack Godley struck out the next three guys to end it.
Cedar Rapids’ only run came in the fourth, when Mitch Garver doubled with one out, went to third on a passed ball and scored on Zach Larson’s RBI single. The teams play again Wednesay night at 6:35.
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