Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2013 Week 2

The St. Louis Cardinals Single-A club struggled with the rain and their bats, going 2-3 on the week.

The St. Louis Cardinals' Single-A club could not get away from the rain or the loss column this week as the team struggled to a 2-3 record. Jordan Walton is in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak and is one of the few Peoria Chiefs producing at the plate.

The week that was

This report covers the period from Wednesday, April 10 through Tuesday, April 16.

The Peoria Chiefs, through two weeks of play, sit at 5-6 on the year. The pitching has been fantastic while the offense has been anemic and struggles to score runs at crucial times.

Dann Bilardello's ballclub began the week with back-to-back rainouts in the final game of the home stand against Beloit (Oakland) and then in the first of four games at Quad Cities (Houston).

When the weather cooperated, the Chiefs saw mixed results, going 2-3 with wins over Quad Cities and Burlington. The team is currently fourth in the eight-team Midwest League Western Division standings.

Game summaries

Wednesday, April 10: Beloit at Peoria (rainout)

Thursday, April 11: Peoria at Quad Cities (rainout)

Friday, April 12: Peoria 4 at Quad Cities 1 (10 innings)

The Chiefs pitching staff dominated the River Bandits behind starter Kurt Heyer, who pitched five innings while allowing no earned runs. Heyer fanned eight and lowered his ERA to 2.25 in two starts this season. The bullpen continued its solid work giving up no runs in five innings. The staff's 14 combined strikeouts on the evening was the most all season.

Jordan Walton led the Peoria offense with two hits including a double and a triple.

Saturday, April 13: Peoria 6 at Quad Cities 8

The offense pounded out nine hits but it was not enough. The Chiefs committed five errors which led to four unearned runs to give Quad Cities the victory. It was just the third time all season Peoria had scored more than four times.

Starter Dail Villanueva had a forgettable outing, allowing two unearned runs, three hits and three walks in just three innings.

Shortstop Alex Mejia had two hits and scored twice. The Chiefs number three and four hitters, Patrick Wisdom and Jacob Wilson, went a combined 0-for-9 with four strikeouts.

Sunday, April 14: Peoria 2 at Quad Cities 3

As has been the theme all season, the Chiefs received good pitching but could not get the offense going. Starter Tyrell Jenkins went five innings, allowing three runs. Joey Donofrio and Corey Baker combined for three scoreless innings of relief.

The offense had seven hits but stranded seven as well. Second baseman Breyvic Valera moved into the three hole and responded with two hits.

Monday, April 15: Burlington 6 at Peoria 1

The Chiefs picked up a run in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by second baseman Jacob Wilson but that is all the scoring they could muster.

Starter Kyle Helisek had a rough night, allowing six runs in six innings on the mound. Corey Baker continued his great beginning to the season, pitching two scoreless innings. Baker has yet to allow a run and has fanned 13 batters in eight innings pitched in April.

Tuesday, April 16: Burlington 5 at Peoria 7

The bats finally woke up for the struggling Peoria offense as Breyvic Valera, Jordan Walton and Jacob Wilson all had multi-hit games. The team had 10 hits and overcame an early 4-0 deficit in the first two innings. Wilson went 2-for-4 and had two RBI to give him a team-leading seven on the season.

The Chiefs' seven runs scored is the most they have put on the board so far this year.

Starter Joey Cuda went just two innings, allowing four runs, but only one was earned. The bullpen was once again fantastic in relief as it has been all year. Mike Aldrete, Joe Scanio, and Dixon Llorens only gave up one run in seven innings of work.

Who's hot

The pitching staff. The Chiefs pitching thus far this season has been nothing short of fantastic. The team boasts a 2.68 ERA, good for third in the MWL. They also have the second most strikeouts in the league (96). The bullpen has been virtually unhittable and has been the strength for Peoria in the early going. Bilardello has shown great confidence in the pen several times this season by pulling the starter early to keep games in check. The bullpen boasts a 1.15 ERA and has only allowed seven earned runs in 54 2/3 innings.

Alex Mejia. The Chiefs' shortstop has been a pleasant surprise so far this season as he is batting .333. Mejia leads the team in average, total bases and OPS to go with a steady glove defensively. Playing one of the most important defensive positions on the field, he has yet to commit an error this season. Mejia has been one of the few bright spots in the Peoria lineup early in the year.

Jordan Walton. Walton began the season 0-for-7 at the plate but has since been clicking on all cylinders. He is currently in the midst of a seven game hitting streak and is batting .407 over that period. Walton has provided good production at first base since David Washington went on the Suspended List.

Who's not

The offense. Outside of a couple of games, the Chiefs offense has been poor for the first two weeks. In four of their 11 games, the team has scored two runs or less. Peoria is third to last in the MWL with a .224 team batting average and is tied for 11th out of 16 teams in runs scored. Only Alex Mejia and Jordan Walton are batting over .300. The Chiefs are definitely struggling for offense right now, but as the weather gets warmer, look for the bats to heat up as well.

Patrick Wisdom. Wisdom is struggling in the early going in his first full season of minor league baseball. The supplemental first round selection of the Cardinals in the 2012 draft is batting .175 and has driven in just four runs all year. In six games since a 3-for-4 day against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Milwaukee) on April 7, Wisdom is just 2-for-21. The Chiefs need Wisdom producing in the middle of the order for the team to be successful.

Jacob Wilson. The Chief's second baseman is hitting just .154 on the year with only six hits in 39 at-bats. He has endured a 2-for-27 slump already this season. The good news is Wilson has three hits in the last two games and could be heating up.



Injuries and suspensions

INF Jeremy Schaffer remains on the Disabled List
1B David Washington remains on the Suspended List

Team stats – Season to date

The Chiefs offense ranks in the lower half of the MWL while the pitching is near the top of most statistics.

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16
BA .224 14th
Runs 41 T-11th
OPS .627 13th
Doubles 15 12th
HR 5 T-7th
Steals 7 14th
Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
ERA 2.68 3rd
Ks 96 2nd
Walks 39 7th fewest
HR allowed 4 T-4th fewest
Saves 3 7th

Midwest League Western Division Standings

Club W L PCT GB L 10 Streak
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 9 3 .750 - 7-3 W2
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 8 3 .727 0.5 7-3 W1
Burlington Bees (LAA) 6 6 .500 3.0 5-5 L1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 5 6 .455 3.5 5-5 W1
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 5 7 .417 4.0 5-5 W1
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 4 6 .400 4.0 4-6 L2
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 5 8 .385 4.5 3-7 L1
Kane County Cougars (CHC) 4 7 .364 4.5 4-6 L1

What's next

The Chiefs continue their six-game home stand with a final game against Burlington (Angels) Wednesday night before a three-game set with Midwest League Western Division leader Cedar Rapids (Minnesota) this weekend. Peoria will then head on the road for a series with Kane County (Cubs) next week.

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