Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2013 Week 6

The St. Louis Cardinals' Single-A club had a busy week playing nine road games, going 4-5. Casey Rasmus and Jacob Wilson are hitting the ball well.

The Peoria Chiefs continued their struggles on the road, but were able to break a five-game road losing streak. Casey Rasmus is batting .333 in his last 10 games while Jacob Wilson continues to have a hot bat and leads the team in home runs and RBI.

The week that was

This report covers the period from Wednesday, May 8 through Tuesday, May 14.

The Chiefs had a tough road swing after going 4-0 on their home stand last week. Making up earlier rainouts, manager Dann Bilardello's ballclub played nine games in seven days including two doubleheaders. The team managed to go 4-5. They are 18-17 on the season and are currently tied for fourth in the Midwest League Western Division.

Peoria began the week with two losses at Beloit (Oakland). They then split a doubleheader with the Snappers to salvage a game in the series. The Chiefs had another doubleheader to open the series with the Quad Cities (Houston). The two teams split the double dip and the four-game series. Peoria ended the week with a victory over Kane County.

Game summaries

Wednesday, May 8: Peoria 1 at Beloit 6

The Chiefs' 12-game road trip began with the same offensive struggles that have plagued the team for much of the season. They left 11 men on base and went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Carson Kelly had three hits to lead Peoria. It was the fourth time in the last six games that Kelly had more than one hit. Jordan Walton, in his first game back off the disabled list, went 2-for-4.

Josh Lucas struggled in his third start of the season. The right-hander gave up three earned runs and nine hits in four innings.

Thursday, May 9: Peoria 5 at Beloit 6 (Game 1, 8 innings)

The game was played in steady rain throughout with it eventually being called after eight innings. The Chiefs managed just six hits but were able to draw six walks. Jordan Walton had two hits and two RBI. Patrick Wisdom hit his Midwest League-leading seventh home run in the second inning to tie teammate Jacob Wilson. Breyvic Valera had only one hit but scored three runs.

Peoria pitching gave up six runs for the second consecutive game. Starter Hector Hernandez went 4 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs while striking out five.

Thursday, May 9: Peoria at Beloit (Game 2, rained out)

Friday, May 10: Peoria 2 at Beloit 0 (Game 1, 7 innings)

Pitchers Joey Cuda and Zach Petrick were outstanding in the shortened seven-inning game. The duo combined to give up just five hits and fanned seven Snappers. It was the Chiefs' third shutout of the season.

The Peoria offense scored two runs in the first inning and it was all they needed. Jacob Wilson drove home Breyvic Valera on a single for his team-leading 27th RBI. Two batters later, Patrick Wisdom hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Alex Mejia who reached on an error. The Chiefs had just three hits but benefited from three Beloit errors.

The victory snapped a five-game road losing streak.

Friday, May 10: Peoria 0 at Beloit 4 (Game 2, 7 innings)

Breyvic Valera began the game with a single, but it was the Chiefs only hit of the contest. In the doubleheader with Beloit, Peoria managed just four hits in 14 innings. It was the second time this season the team has been shut out.

Pitcher Kurt Heyer almost went the distance, pitching 5 2/3 innings and allowing all four runs. His ERA now is 2.63 on the season.

Saturday, May 11: Peoria 6 at Quad Cities 3 (Game 1, 7 innings)

The Chiefs bats got going in the first game of the doubleheader against the River Bandits. The team had 10 hits and scored in four consecutive innings between the second and fifth frames. Jordan Walton had two solo home runs, which were the first of his career. Michael Swinson and Casey Rasmus each added two hits.

The game also featured the ejection of Peoria manager Dann Bilardello. In the top of the seventh, Quad Cities' pitcher Michael Dimock fired at the head of Walton but missed. When Dimock was not ejected, Bilardello was thrown out of the game for arguing. Both benches were warned and the game ended without incident.

Saturday, May 11: Peoria 2 at Quad Cities 3 (Game 2, 7 innings)

Jacob Wilson launched a game-tying solo home run in the top of seventh inning after fouling off two full-count pitches. But Mike Aldrete gave up a walk-off hit in the bottom of the frame to seal the Chiefs' loss.

Silfredo Garcia started his first game for Peoria, throwing just three innings while giving up one run. He struck out four River Bandits. Joe Scanio gave up only one run in three innings of relief.

Sunday, May 12: Peoria 4 at Quad Cities 2

The Chiefs only had three players with hits, but a great start from Kyle Helisek kept Quad Cities at bay. Helisek went six innings while giving up two runs and striking out five. His only blemish was a two-run home run in the fourth. He earned his first quality start of the season. Joey Donofrio and Zach Petrick were great in relief, blanking the River Bandits and allowing just two hits. Petrick earned his fifth save.

Breyvic Valera and Alex Mejia each had three hits. Valera scored three times and Mejia tied a team record with two triples.

Monday, May 13: Peoria 0 at Quad Cities 8

Peoria was shut out for the second time this week and was done in by a disastrous fourth inning. Starter Josh Lucas pitched well enough to win, going six innings and allowing just one earned run. The Chiefs committed three errors and gave up all eight runs in the fourth.

The offense managed just six hits with Alex Mejia going 2-for-4. Jacob Wilson, Jordan Walton and Patrick Wisdom, the 3-4-5 hitters for the Chiefs, combined to go 1-for-11 in the ballgame.

Tuesday, May 14: Peoria 8 at Kane County 4

The Chiefs offense was clicking on all cylinders with eight players getting a hit. Jacob Wilson went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI. Ildemaro Vargas also had two hits and two RBI. Peoria had 12 hits as a team.

Hector Hernandez made a solid start, allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings. Corey Baker and Zach Petrick pitched the last 3 2/3 innings, giving up just one hit and no runs.

Who's hot

Casey Rasmus. Rasmus began the season as the backup catcher behind Gerwuins Velazco. But Velazco has struggled mightily this season and is hitting just .125. He has only seven hits all year. Rasmus played his way into the lineup and has started since early May. He is batting .333 in the last 10 games while showing he is capable of getting the big hit. Rasmus is second on the team in batting average (.320) and is first in on base percentage (.382). He has also proven to be tough to strikeout with only four all season.

Jordan Walton. Since coming off the disabled list on May 8, Walton has picked up right where he left off before the injury. The utilityman is batting .300 since his return, including a two-home run game. He also has six RBI in that nine-game stretch. Walton leads the team in average (.330) and is second in OBP (.370). He is also second in OPS (.843) and is tied for third in RBI (12). Walton is ninth in the Midwest League in average.

Breyvic Valera. The Chiefs second baseman went 11-for-29 (.379) over an eight game stretch between May 5 and May 12, though he is hitless in the last two games. Valera isn't a power hitter with only seven extra base hits all season, but he has been a pest for opposing pitchers at the top of the Peoria lineup for much of the year. The switch hitter is batting .284 this season and has 10 RBI. Valera has also been very solid defensively, only committing three errors in 33 games.

Jacob Wilson. Wilson has been the most productive hitter in the Peoria lineup all season. He continues to swing a hot bat after a 2-for-27 slump in April. Wilson is batting .294 and has 8 RBI in the last 10 games. He leads the team in home runs (8), RBI (33) and OPS (.857). He also compares well to the rest of the MWL as Wilson is tied for third in home runs and is second in RBI.

Tyrell Jenkins. After a rough beginning to the season, Jenkins has pitched much better in his last two starts. He followed up his complete game shutout against Fort Wayne last week with a solid outing against the Quad Cities Saturday. Jenkins got his second win while pitching five innings allowing just two earned runs. He did continue to struggle with his control, giving up five walks. Jenkins has walked 16 batters in 30 1/3 innings this season. But the right hander appears to be hitting his stride. He will be interesting to watch as the season progresses as Jenkins is ranked one of the best pitchers in the Cardinals farm system.

Zach Petrick. The right-handed reliever has been lights out all season long. Petrick has a 1.11 ERA and has allowed just three earned runs on the year. He has struck out 34 batters in 24 1/3 innings. Dann Bilardello has not been afraid to go to Petrick in tough situations and he has responded by getting out of most jams. Petrick has pitched more than one inning in all but one appearance.

Who's not

Patrick Wisdom. Wisdom has been up and down all season long with more downs than ups. He struggled to start the season then appeared to get it going before falling into another slump. The Cardinals first-round supplemental pick in the 2012 draft is hitting only .133 in the last 10 games. He has one home run and two RBI over that period. Wisdom is batting just .205 on the season. Strikeouts have been a problem for much of the year and he does not seem to pick the ball up well in some at-bats. The good news is Wisdom has still been productive even if his average is not where he wants it. He is second on the team in home runs (7) and RBI (19). I still think Wisdom will get it going as the season continues. He is too talented of a hitter.

Gerwuins Velazco. Velazco has been horrendous at the plate this season. He began the season as the everyday catcher before losing his job to Casey Rasmus. Over the last 10 games dating back to April 21, Velazco is 1-for-28. He is solid behind the dish defensively, but to get playing time, Velazco has to hit the ball better, especially with the way Rasmus has been going. The team obviously saw something coming into the season to give Velazco the starting job so hopefully he can turn it around.


5/12 RHP Dixon Llorens placed on the 7-day disabled list
5/12 RHP Sam Tuivailala assigned to Peoria from Extended Spring Training
5/11 RHP Silfredo Garcia assigned to Peoria from Extended Spring Training
5/8 C Geoff Klein assigned to Memphis from Peoria
5/8 1B/OF Jordan Walton activated from the 7-day disabled list

Injuries and suspensions

INF Jeremy Schaffer remains on the disabled list
LHP Dail Villanueva remains on the disabled list
OF C.J. McElroy remains on the disabled list

Team stats – Season to date

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16
BA 0.250 T-8th
Runs 150 13th
OPS 0.688 9th
Doubles 51 14th
HR 20 T-6th
Steals 27 14th
Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
ERA 3.88 9th
Ks 287 6th
Walks 119 T-7th fewest
HR allowed 18 T-6th fewest
Saves 11 4th

Midwest League Western Division Standings

Club W L PCT GB L 10 Streak
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 25 11 .694 - 6-4 W1
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 21 16 .568 4.5 7-3 W1
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 21 16 .568 4.5 5-5 L1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 18 17 .514 6.5 5-5 W1
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 18 17 .514 6.5 7-3 W2
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 18 19 .486 7.5 5-5 L1
Kane County Cougars (CHC) 17 18 .486 7.5 5-5 L3
Burlington Bees (LAA) 12 21 .364 11.5 3-7 L2

What's next

The Chiefs have three games left on the road trip including a doubleheader with Kane County on Thursday. The team will then return home for 10 games starting with a four game set against Clinton (Seattle) this weekend. Clinton trails Peoria by just one game in the MWL standings.

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