Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2013 Week 14

The St. Louis Cardinals Single-A club won four straight to end the week en route to a 4-2 record. The Peoria Chiefs pitching staff was incredible, allowing just 12 runs in six games. Cory Jones continues to pitch phenomenally while Patrick Wisdom was an RBI machine.

The week that was

This report covers the period from Wednesday, July 3 through Tuesday, July 9.

After a 4-2 week, the Peoria Chiefs sit at 9-9 and are locked in a tie for fourth place in the Midwest League Western Division standings. The team played some of its best baseball all season against some of its best competition. Peoria was able to take four of five games from Beloit (Oakland), which is 20 games over .500 this year. They outscored the Snappers 25-10 in the series including two shutouts. The domination of one of the MWL best teams has to give the Chiefs confidence heading into the stretch run of the season.

Manager Dann Bilardello's ball club continues to be fantastic at Dozer Park this season. With four wins over Beloit, the team moved to 27-13 at home. On the flip side, the Chiefs have had their struggles on the road. They are just 20-25.

Game summaries

Wednesday, July 3: Peoria 1 at Burlington 2

The game was a pitcher's duel from the start with Burlington's Ryan Crowley barely out pitching Chiefs' starter Kyle Helisek. Helisek went seven innings, matching a career high. He allowed just one earned run while striking out six. Zack Russell pitched one hitless inning in relief.

The Peoria offense never got going, notching only five hits. C.J. McElroy went 1-for-3 with a walk and the lone Chiefs RBI.

Thursday, July 4: Beloit 3 at Peoria 2

It was not a happy Independence Day for the Chiefs as Beloit won a close game in the first of a five-game series. Each team scored in only one inning with Peoria getting two runs in the fourth and the Snappers plating three runs in the fifth. Patrick Wisdom hit his team-high 13th home run, a two-run shot. Breyvic Valera went 2-for-3.

Joey Cuda went six innings, allowing seven hits and three runs. He struck out three. It was Cuda's seventh quality start, tying him with Hector Hernandez for the team lead. The bullpen pitched three scoreless innings in relief.

The Chiefs had their highest attendance since April 2009 with a crowd of a little over 8,000.

Friday, July 5: Beloit 0 at Peoria 2

For the fourth straight game Peoria did not allow more than three runs and this time, they earned a shutout over Beloit. It was the team's seventh shutout of the year and the first since June 13. Hector Hernandez had a fantastic start, allowing just one hit in five innings of work. He walked no batters and let just one Snapper reach base.

Jordan Walton went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Breyvic Valera was the only other Chiefs player with multiple hits, notching two.

Saturday, July 6: Beloit 3 at Peoria 4

Once again the Chiefs allowed three runs or less and won a close game over Beloit. Silfredo Garcia had a good start, pitching five innings allowing four hits and one run. Mike Aldrete and Joey Donofrio combined to pitch four innings and give up two earned runs in relief.

The Peoria offense was led by two of its outfielders. Charlie Tilson had two hits and scored a run. C.J. McElroy was 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored. His three RBI tied a career high.

Sunday, July 7: Beloit 4 at Peoria 9

The Chiefs offense exploded to the tune of nine runs and a season-high 16 hits. Jeremy Schaffer, Jordan Walton, Patrick Wisdom and Charlie Tilson all had three hits. Schaffer led the offense with two home runs, four RBI and three runs scored. Wisdom was 3-for-5 with three RBI. It was arguably Peoria's best offensive game of the season as they scored five runs in the fourth inning. They were 6-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

Brad Watson earned his first Chiefs win. He went 6 2/3 innings and allowed just one earned run while striking out six.

Monday, July 8: Beloit 0 at Peoria 8

The Peoria offense scored three runs in the first and two more in the second to win its fourth straight game. It matches the team's longest win streak of the season.

Nick Martini, C.J. McElroy, Jordan Walton, Patrick Wisdom and Gerwuins Velazco all had multi-hit games. The Chiefs had four doubles. Walton had three hits, two RBI and two runs scored. Wisdom had two hits, three RBI and a run scored. Peoria was an impressive 8-for-17 with runners in scoring position. The team had 30 hits and outscored Beloit 17-4 over the final two games.

Cory Jones won his fifth game and allowed only two hits over six innings. Jones has a 1.02 ERA in seven starts. The bullpen pitched three innings in relief and did not allow a hit. Sam Tuivailala, Joe Scanio and Zack Russell also struck out eight in those three innings.

Who's hot

Jordan Walton. There was no one hotter than Walton during the five-game series with Beloit. The first baseman was 11-for-20 with four runs scored and three RBI. Despite spending time on the disabled list this season, Walton is fourth in RBI (30) and leads the team in batting average (.307). He has not hit a lot of home runs this season with only two but his 15 doubles and three triples shows his pop.

The pitching staff. The starting pitching and bullpen may have had its best week all season. They lowered the team ERA (3.71) 16 points and were lights out against one of the best teams in the MWL. In six games, the pitching staff gave up 12 runs while notching two shutouts. It was the staff's seventh and eighth scoreless performances this season. If the Chiefs continue to get pitching like that, they will improve on their 9-9 second half record and definitely be in position for a playoff spot.

Patrick Wisdom. Wisdom has struggled to hit for average all season long but that has not stopped him from producing at the plate. He was on fire in the Beloit series and especially so in the two game offensive outburst that plated 17 runs for the Chiefs. The third baseman had a ridiculous eight RBI in five games against the Snappers. He was 6-for-15 during the series and had a home run. Wisdom has hit a team-high 13 home runs this season and is second on the club in RBI (53) behind Jacob Wilson. He is tied for third in MWL in homers and is 12th in RBI.

Cory Jones. Jones continues to be in the "who's hot" portion of this column. He has been nothing short of fantastic with the Chiefs. In seven starts, Jones is 5-1 with a 1.02 ERA. He has pitched at least six innings in all but one of those starts and has three times allowed zero earned runs. In his short time with the Chiefs, Jones has quickly emerged as the ace of the staff. It appears it is only a matter of time before Jones is promoted.

Who's not

Ildemaro Vargas. The Peoria shortstop is in a horrific slump and has seen his average plummet all the way down to .252 on the season. Over his last 10 starts, Vargas is just 3-for-30 with one run scored and two RBI. He has struck out eight times. Vargas did not look comfortable at the plate during the series with Beloit. He appeared to lack confidence and several times swung at pitches nowhere near the zone. Vargas is the team's best shortstop so they need him to start hitting well again.

Transactions

7/9 C Jesus Montero promoted to Palm Beach from Peoria
7/9 C Jonathan Keener assigned to Peoria from Johnson City
7/9 LHP Dail Villanueva activated from Disabled List and unconditionally released by Cardinals
7/8 RHP Hector Hernandez promoted to Palm Beach from Peoria
7/8 RHP Chris Perry assigned to Peoria from State College
7/7 RHP Robert Stock promoted to Palm Beach from Peoria
7/7 RHP Brady Adamek assigned to Peoria from State College

Injuries

RHP Chris Thomas remains on the Disabled List
C Adam Ehrlich 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 0.255 T-7th
Runs 385 9th
OPS 0.693 T-10th
Doubles 131 T-13th
HR 44 T-10th
Steals 54 16th
     
Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
ERA 3.71 6th
Ks 664 5th
Walks 253 3rd fewest
HR allowed 42 4th fewest
Saves 23 T-6th

Midwest League Western Division Standings – second half

Club W L PCT GB Overall Stk
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 13 5 0.722 - 53-33 W1
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 12 5 0.706 0.5 50-36 W2
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 12 6 0.667 1 55-33 L4
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 9 9 0.500 4 42-45 L1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 9 9 0.500 4 47-38 W4
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 7 11 0.389 6 36-47 W1
Burlington Bees (LAA) 5 13 0.278 8 31-52 L1
Kane County Cougars (CHC) 4 13 0.235 8.5 34-49 L2

What's next

The Chiefs will go back on the road for all of next week to face two opponents from the Eastern division of the MWL. Peoria will take on Lansing for three games starting Wednesday night before heading to the Great Lakes to face the Loons. The two opponents are a combined 26 games under .500 this season. Peoria needs to play well in these games to make up ground in the standings.



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