Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2013 Week 5

The St. Louis Cardinals Single-A club played its best baseball of the season, going a perfect 4-0 on the home stand. Pitcher Tyrell Jenkins threw a complete game gem and Jacob Wilson continues to swing a hot bat.

The Peoria Chiefs are riding a season-high four game winning streak after dominating its opponents at home. Jacob Wilson batted .438 this week and hit two home runs and collected eight RBI. Starter Tyrell Jenkins threw a complete game shutout to earn his first win of the season.

The week that was

This report covers the period from Wednesday, May 1 through Tuesday, May 7.

Manager Dann Bilardello's ball club played its best baseball of 2013 as the team went undefeated and was impressive in doing so. For the first time all season, the offense and pitching was at its best at the same time. Throughout the month of April, the Chiefs would get good pitching one week then bad pitching the next. The offense was just as inconsistent and would go hot and cold game-to-game.

But Peoria showed no signs of that this week. The team opened the home stand with a thrilling win against Lake County (Cleveland). The next two games against the Captains were rained out. The Chiefs then finished the week with a three-game sweep of Fort Wayne (San Diego). It was the first sweep of the season for the team. The pitching staff dominated the TinCaps, giving up only two runs the entire series.

Game summaries

Wednesday, May 1: Lake County 10 at Peoria 13

The Chiefs won the first game of the series with Lake County in thrilling fashion. Jacob Wilson demolished a baseball to deep centerfield in the bottom of the ninth. The three-run home run gave the team the come-from-behind walk off victory.

It was an offensive slug fest as the clubs combined for 31 hits and six innings of multiple runs. Peoria had four home runs, which tied for the most they have hit in a game all season. Including his walkoff, Wilson had a monster day, going 3-for-5 with two homers, four runs scored and five RBI.

Charlie Tilson went 2-for-5 with three runs scored and a home run of his own. Geoff Klein was the other Peoria player with a home run as he connected on his first of the season via a grand slam in the first inning.

Thursday, May 2: Lake County 2 at Peoria 2 (suspended in 8th inning)
Friday, May 3: Lake County at Peoria (rainout)

Thursday's game was suspended in the bottom of the eighth inning with Lake County leading 3-2. The contest was rescheduled for the next day, but it was also rained out. Since the teams do not meet again in 2013, the two games will not be made up. Under the suspended game rules, Thursday's game ended in a 2-2 tie. Lake County took a one run lead in the top of the eighth but the Chiefs did not have a chance to tie as they were still batting in the bottom of the inning when the game was stopped.

Saturday, May 4: Fort Wayne 1 at Peoria 5

Starter Kurt Heyer continued his fantastic start to the season. The right-hander dominated Fort Wayne in his five innings, making one mistake on a solo home run in the second inning. Heyer gave up just three hits and struck out four. He has a 1.66 ERA this season. Zach Petrick, Joey Donofrio and Mike Aldrete combined for four innings in relief with no runs allowed.

Offensively, the Chiefs pounded out 10 hits. Breyvic Valera reached base three times and went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Carson Kelly also had two hits and scored twice.

Sunday, May 5: Fort Wayne 0 at Peoria 1

The story of the ballgame was the pitching performance of starter Tyrell Jenkins. The right-hander threw a complete game shutout, allowing only three hits while striking out five. Jenkins' stuff was dominating and he kept Fort Wayne hitters off balance the entire night. The TinCaps didn't even threaten to score. It was the best performance from a Peoria starter all season.

The nine innings pitched was a career-high for Jenkins, whose previous best was six innings. The game took just one hour and 47 minutes. On Monday, Jenkins was named the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week for this performance.

Monday, May 6: Fort Wayne 1 at Peoria 4

The Chiefs finished off their first sweep of the season with another dominant pitching performance by the Peoria staff. Kyle Helisek started the game and only yielded one run in five innings. The bullpen gave up just two hits in four innings of work. Dixon Llorens earned his fourth save of the season. Corey Baker and Joe Scanio each picked up a hold.

Jacob Wilson, Patrick Wisdom and Carson Kelly all had great games offensively. Peoria's 3-4-5 hitters combined to go 7-for-12. Wilson led the team with three hits and an RBI.

Who's hot

Jacob Wilson. Wilson hit a blistering .438 this week and had walk-off home run last Wednesday against Lake County. The second baseman totaled two home runs and eight RBI in the four wins.

Wilson had struggled big time to start the season. He endured a 2-for-27 slump and was hitting just .154 on April 9. His batting average is up to .290 three weeks later. Wilson leads the team in home runs (7), RBI (26), total bases (55) and OPS (.937). He also is tied for the MWL lead in home runs and is second in RBI.

The emergence of Wilson's hot bat in the middle of the order has turned the Chiefs offense around after a rough start. He has looked extremely comfortable at the plate and is rarely fooled by opponents' pitching.

Tyrell Jenkins. Jenkins is considered one of the top pitching prospects in the Cardinals organization, ranked eighth by The Cardinal Nation, though he did not show it during the first month of the season. The right-hander had a 7.71 ERA in four starts in April. Jenkins had only one more strikeout than walks.

But he reminded us of his considerable potential in a dominating complete game shutout against Fort Wayne on Sunday. Jenkins was all but unhittable and had all of his pitches working. He had great control, walking only one hitter. It was the best performance by a Chiefs starter in 2013. Jenkins ERA fell to 4.97 and he earned his first win of the season. Getting him going will be huge for the team going forward.

Kurt Heyer. The 22-year-old right-hander has been Peoria's best starter all season. Heyer has given up just four earned runs in five starts and boasts a team-best 1.66 ERA. He is eighth in the MWL in ERA, but only has two wins to show for it. Heyer has averaged just 4 1/3 innings a start. Other than that, he has been outstanding.

Who's not

Alex Mejia. After a great start, Mejia has stumbled in recent weeks. The shortstop is hitting .211 in the last 10 games and has struck out 11 times. You can tell he is really struggling and not seeing the ball well at the plate. Mejia is still batting .307 for the year and has been extremely solid defensively. He has committed only two errors to date.

Transactions

5/4 OF C.J. McElroy placed on the 7-day disabled list, backdated to 5/1
5/4 CF Michael Swinson activated from the 7-day disabled list
5/4 2B Ildemaro Vargas activated from the 7-day disabled list
5/4 OF Steven Ramos sent to Extended Spring Training

Injuries and suspensions

INF Jeremy Schaffer remains on the disabled list
LHP Dail Villanueva remains on the disabled list
OF Jordan Walton remains on the disabled list

Team stats – Season to date

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16
BA 0.256 7th
Runs 122 13th
OPS 0.704 9th
Doubles 43 13th
HR 16 6th
Steals 23 T-13th
     
Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
ERA 4 10th
Ks 221 7th
Walks 96 9th fewest
HR allowed 11 T-4th fewest
Saves 8 5th

Midwest League Western Division Standings

Club W L PCT GB L 10 Streak
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 21 8 .724 - 7-3 W2
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 18 11 .621 3.0 6-4 W2
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 14 12 .538 5.5 6-4 W4
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 15 13 .536 5.5 6-4 W1
Kane County Cougars (CHC) 14 14 .500 6.5 7-3 L1
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 13 14 .481 7.0 6-4 W5
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 13 15 .464 7.5 5-5 L1
Burlington Bees (LAA) 10 16 .385 9.5 4-6 L2

What's next

The Chiefs embark on a 12-game, nine day road trip as the team will attempt to make up three April rainouts. They will play four games at Beloit (Oakland), including the make up of the April 10 cancellation. Peoria will then travel to the Quad Cities (Houston) for another four game set, with the April 11 rainout to be made up with a double-header. Finally, the Chiefs will head to Kane County for four games and the makeup of the April 23 rainout. The team does not return to Peoria until May 17.



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