The TinCaps dropped Saturday night's matchup in excruciating fashion, loading the bases with nobody out in the ninth before striking out in three straight at-bats to lose 6-4 and fall to 2-2 on this homestand. It's the type of game where a quick turnaround is a positive because it helps gets that memory out of the players' systems quickly and that quick turnaround is forthcoming today with a 1:05 p.m. start.
To try to even the series at a game apiece, the TinCaps will send 21-year-old left-hander Cullen Dana to the mound against the Kernels. Dana doesn't really have to have a short memory like the rest of the team does because he hasn't pitched in the Midwest League before. The 30th-round pick in the 2018 draft is making his TinCaps debut after spending the early part of the season rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery at extended spring training and then pitching for short-season Tri-City for less than a month. In his time on the mound, Dana was nothing short of dominant. He pitched 15 innings (four relief appearances and two short starts) and did not give up an earned run. He surrendered only 12 hits and one walk while striking out 16 and generally made everyone he faced look foolish.
Dana is a former Seton Hall hurler and had a distinguished college career. He probably would have been drafted much higher had he not missed his entire junior season while recovering from the same surgery that cost him the early part of this season. For the foreseeable future, he'll be asked to fill the hole in the rotation left by the promotion of Gabe Mosser to High-A.
The Kernels will counter with 23-year-old right-hander Austin Schulfer, a 19th-round pick in the 2018 draft. Schulfer is a strikeout pitcher, whiffing 95 in just 73 innings this season and walking 31. He's posted a 3.08 ERA in 19 appearances (11 starts), but is coming off a couple of rough outings in a row, including a nine-hit, six-run start in 4 1/3 innings against the Lansing Lugnuts his last time out. The TinCaps scored early Saturday against starter Kai-Wei Teng, but went quiet against the Cedar Rapids bullpen; they'll try to keep piling on late in the game today.
The Kernels are coming off a game in which they were uncharacteristically dangerous at the plate. They came in with the second-worst batting average in the Midwest League at .228, but pounded 14 hits in the game, including nine against starter Efrain Contreras. Dana will try to cool them off, but the offense has to pull its weight as well and get this team back on track after a couple of tough losses.