Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2013 Week 7

The St. Louis Cardinals Single-A club struggled to a 3-4 record this week. The Peoria Chiefs were plagued by inconsistent pitching and offense. Highly-touted pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins continues to pitch well after a rough April.

The week that was

This report covers the period from Wednesday, May 15 through Tuesday, May 21.

The Peoria Chiefs were up and down this week as they have been for much of the season. The offense was shut out twice, but scored 33 runs in the other five games. Peoria is 21-21 and is in fifth place in the Midwest League Western Division standings. They trail division leader Cedar Rapids (Minnesota) by 8.5 games.

Peoria began the week by losing two games in a row to Kane County (Cubs). They were outscored 9-0 and were held scoreless in consecutive games for the first time all season. The Chiefs responded in game three of the series with a victory to avoid the sweep. The team then returned home for a four-game set with Clinton (Seattle). Peoria split with the LumberKings as the offense scored 25 runs in the series, but the pitching allowed 24 runs.

Game summaries

Wednesday, May 15: Peoria 0 at Kane County 4

For the eighth consecutive game, Peoria alternated wins and losses. The Chiefs were shut out for the third time in less than a week and managed just three hits in the ballgame. Kane County starter Taylor Scott was fantastic, going 7 1/3 innings while allowing only four Peoria players to reach base.

Joey Cuda allowed only two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings for the Chiefs. The right-hander struck out nine in what was his best start of the season. He lowered his ERA to 5.93.

Thursday, May 16: Peoria 0 at Kane County 5 (Game 1, 7 innings)

For the second game in a row, the Chiefs were kept off the scoreboard by the Cougars. This time, Peoria managed only one hit to give them four in the last two games. Patrick Wisdom had the lone hit for the team.

Starter Kurt Heyer gave up an early run in the second then remained unscathed until a four-run sixth inning. He went 5 1/3 frames and took his second loss of the season.

Thursday, May 16: Peoria 8 at Kane County 2 (Game 2, 7 innings)

Peoria exploded for six runs in the third inning and cruised to a victory in game two of the double header. The Chiefs were aided by six errors by Kane County. Ildemaro Vargas went 3-for-4 and scored two runs. He also had two RBI. Alex Mejia and Carson Kelly each also added two hits.

Silfredo Garcia, in his second start with the team, got his first win. He gave up two runs in six innings while allowing just three hits.

Friday, May 17: Clinton 1 at Peoria 5

After a rain delay lasting more than an hour, the Chiefs held on for the four-run victory. Starter Tyrell Jenkins continued his strong pitching, giving up one earned in five innings. He may have gone longer, but Jenkins did not return after the rain delay. The right-hander struck out four and allowed one solo home run. Joey Donofrio and Zach Petrick came on in relief and gave up just one hit in four innings of work.

Jacob Wilson and Charlie Tilson each had three hits to lead the offense. Carson Kelly hit his first home run of the season with a two-run shot in the fourth inning.

Saturday, May 18: Clinton 10 at Peoria 7

Clinton ended Peoria's five-game home winning streak in a high scoring affair. The Chiefs led 7-5 heading into the ninth, but newcomer Sam Tuivailala gave up five runs then the offense went down in order in the bottom of the inning to seal the loss.

Kyle Helisek yielded 11 hits and flirted with disaster for much of the game. But the lefty pitched well overall, giving up three earned in six innings. He did allow two home runs.

Breyvic Valera went 4-for-4 and reached base five times. He scored two runs and had a RBI. Ildemaro Vargas had three hits and a run scored but left four men on base. As a team, the Chiefs left 15 men on base. They had a season-high 14 hits.

Sunday, May 19: Clinton 5 at Peoria 2

The Chiefs continued to be up and down offensively, only scoring two runs on four hits. Jacob Wilson was the only Peoria player to have multiple hits. Wilson was 2-for-4 and scored a run.

Josh Lucas' mound struggles continued as he allowed all five runs in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander is 0-4 on the season and has a 6.53 ERA. Mike Aldrete was great in 2 2/3 innings of relief. The right-hander gave up only one hit and struck out two.

It was the first time all season the Chiefs lost back-to-back home games.

Monday, May 20: Clinton 8 at Peoria 11

Patrick Wisdom got Peoria off on the right foot in the first inning with a towering grand slam to left field. Wisdom fouled off four pitches before going deep. He tied a Chiefs record for two grand slams in a single season. It was his eighth home run of the year and ties him for the team lead with Jacob Wilson.

Peoria scored nine runs in the first three innings and never looked back. Ildemaro Vargas went 3-for-4 and had his first home run of the season in the fifth. The team had a season-high 15 hits and was 7-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

Corey Baker earned the win in relief of starter Joey Cuda. It was his first win of the year. Zach Petrick collected his sixth save.

Who's hot

Zach Petrick. Petrick continues to be lights out coming out of the bullpen for manager Dann Bilardello. The Illinois native has been nearly unhittable this season. He has six saves and a 0.99 ERA in 27 1/3 innings pitched. Petrick is tied for fifth in the Midwest League in saves. The right-hander has struck out 37 and walked just seven. Opposing batters are hitting .210 against Petrick. He hasn't allowed a run since April 29.

Tyrell Jenkins. Since allowing five runs in 2 1/3 innings on April 28 against Bowling Green, Jenkins has shown why he is one of the most touted pitching prospects in the Cardinals organization. He has a 1.42 ERA in three starts and has earned the win in all three of them. In his last start against Clinton, Jenkins had no walks, which has been a struggle for him all season. You can see Jenkins has developed more confidence since his complete-game shutout against Fort Wayne on May 5. He is throwing all of his pitches well and is locating his fastball much better than he did earlier in the season. Jenkins pitching well is a great sign for the Chiefs and Cardinals fans alike.

Jacob Wilson. Wilson has been a mainstay in the "who's hot" section of this report all season. After going hitless in the last three games of the Kane County series, Wilson made up for it by torturing Clinton pitchers. He went 7-for-12 in the series and had two RBI as well as three runs scored. Wilson is tied with Patrick Wisdom for the team lead in home runs (8) and leads the team in RBI (35). He is second in the Midwest League in RBI and is tied for fourth in home runs. The Tennessee native is batting .283 on the season.

Ildemaro Vargas. The Chiefs second baseman may only be batting .256, but he has been red hot in the last 10 games. He has five multi-hit games in that period with an average of .353. He also has six RBI and hit his first home run of the season. When Vargas hits well, it is a bonus for the Chiefs. He is not known for his offense but has been fantastic as of late.

Who's not

Carson Kelly. Kelly has shown his potential on occasions this season but has looked lost at the plate other times. He is hitting just .189 in his last ten starts, though he did hit his first home run of the season and his career. Kelly is considered one of the best infield prospects in the Cardinals organization and nothing he has done this season should change that. This time last year, he was playing high school baseball and Kelly is the youngest player on the Chiefs. He should improve as the season progresses and he becomes more comfortable with professional pitching.

Alex Mejia. After a blistering start to the season, Mejia has struggled to produce offensively in recent weeks. The shortstop was batting .370 on April 23, but his average has steadily dropped since. Mejia is now hitting .279 and only .250 in his last 10 games.

Josh Lucas. The right-handed starter has struggled in his four starts this season. He is winless on the year and has a 6.53 ERA. Lucas has allowed 37 hits in 20 2/3 innings. The 21st round draftee by the Cardinals in 2010 will need to pitch better to keep his spot in the rotation as the season progresses.



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
RHP Dixon Llorens remains on the disabled list

Team stats – Season to date

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16
BA .251 8th
Runs 183 13th
OPS .687 T-8th
Doubles 63 13th
HR 23 9th
Steals 27 T-15th
Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
ERA 4.04 10th
Ks 335 6th
Walks 134 T-7th fewest
HR allowed 23 T-6th fewest
Saves 12 4th

Midwest League Western Division Standings

Club W L PCT GB L 10 Streak
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 30 13 .698 - 7-3 W2
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 25 18 .581 5.0 6-4 W4
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 23 20 .535 7.0 4-6 L4
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 22 21 .512 8.0 7-3 L1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 21 21 .500 8.5 5-5 W1
Kane County Cougars (CHC) 20 22 .476 9.5 3-7 L2
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 19 21 .475 9.5 4-6 L2
Burlington Bees (LAA) 15 24 .385 13.0 4-6 W2

What's next

The Chiefs wrap up their home stand with six games beginning with a series against Kane County (Cubs) Wednesday night. Peoria will then face the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Milwaukee) in a three-game set starting Saturday. The team then will go back on the road for a four-game series with Burlington that includes a double header on Tuesday.

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