The week that was
This report covers the period from Wednesday, July 10 through Tuesday, July 16.
This week, manager Dann Bilardello's Peoria Chiefs took to the road to face two opponents from the Midwest League's Eastern Division. The Chiefs saw mixed success. After losing game one of the series to Lansing (Toronto), Peoria put up 10 runs and was in position to take the series. However, the Lugnuts squeaked out a 4-3 victory in the rubber match.
The Chiefs then traveled to Great Lakes (Detroit) to take on the Whitecaps. For the second consecutive series, Peoria was shut out in the opener. But the offense was able to come alive in the last two games for the team to steal the series. They scored 18 runs in the final two games and allowed just seven.
After a 3-3 week, the Chiefs sit at 12-12 and are locked in a tie for fourth place in the MWL Western Division standings. They trail Beloit (Oakland) and Cedar Rapids (Minnesota) by four games. If the season was to end today, the Chiefs would qualify for the playoffs. Since both Beloit and Cedar Rapids already earned automatic bids to the postseason in the first half, the next two teams in the standings would qualify in the second half. That is currently Peoria and Clinton (Seattle).
Wednesday, July 10: Peoria 0 at Lansing 1
Lansing starting pitcher Javier Avendano was unbelievable. The former Cardinals farmhand limited the Chiefs to two hits over seven innings. He outdueled Peoria starter Kyle Helisek, who also went seven innings, allowing just one run while striking out four.
Thursday, July 11: Peoria 10 at Lansing 3
The Chiefs offense exploded in the eighth inning with seven runs as they cruised to a 10-3 victory. The team had 13 base knocks with four players having multiple hits. Breyvic Valera and Charlie Tilson each went 3-for-5. Jeremy Schaffer and Patrick Wisdom had two hits and two RBI.
Friday, July 12: Peoria 3 at Lansing 4
Chris Perry made his Chiefs debut and pitched great over five innings of work. The right-hander allowed three hits and no runs. He struck out nine. But the bullpen let the game get away, with Lansing scoring two runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Thomas Lee and Joe Scanio pitched an inning each and gave up two runs each.
The offense again struggled to be productive against Lugnuts pitching. They mustered just five hits. Ildemaro Vargas went 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Jordan Walton had a hit and a run scored.
Saturday, July 13: Peoria 0 at Great Lakes 5
The Chiefs were shut out for the second time in four games and moved to 1-3 in the last four. The offense could not muster anything against Loons pitching. The team had three hits with two coming from Jeremy Schaffer. Charlie Tilson had the only other hit. Peoria put just two runners in scoring position all night.
Silfredo Garcia had a solid outing, giving up one run, but the right-hander only pitched 4 2/3 innings. Mike Aldrete pitched two innings in relief and gave up four runs. He allowed two hits but walked three.
Sunday, July 14: Peoria 13 at Great Lakes 4
After struggling for most of the week, the offense came to life in the ninth inning Sunday. Peoria was clinging to a 5-4 lead when they erupted for eight runs in the final frame. Every starter had at least one hit and a run scored. Jordan Walton hit his third home run of the season and was 2-for-5 with four RBI. Gerwuins Velazco also had two hits and two RBI. Charlie Tilson had three runs scored.
Brad Watson earned his second win as a Chief. He had a quality start, going six innings while allowing three runs. He struck out four.
Monday, July 15: Peoria 5 at Great Lakes 3
Peoria earned the series victory with a two-run win in the finale. Cory Jones moved to 6-1 on the season, pitching seven innings allowing two runs. Jones struck out nine. His ERA is 1.24 as a Chief. Joey Donofrio pitched a scoreless ninth inning, earning his third save of the year.
Jordan Walton led the offense with two hits, a run scored and three RBI. C.J. McElroy also had two hits along with an RBI. Charlie Tilson continued to be a run scoring machine, crossing the plate twice.
Jordan Walton. The first baseman continues to hit the ball well for the Chiefs. Over the last ten games, Walton is hitting .381 and has 11 RBI. He hit his third home run of the season Sunday against Great Lakes. In the last two games, Walton has seven RBI and three runs scored in just nine at-bats.
His .301 average on the year is the best on the team and good for ninth in the MWL. Walton is also third on the team in RBI (38), trailing only Patrick Wisdom and Jacob Wilson. He also leads the team in on base percentage (.348).
Cory Jones. I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but there are not enough good things to say about the right-hander. Since his promotion to Peoria on May 29, Jones is 6-1 with a 1.24 ERA. He is tied for the team lead in wins with Kyle Helisek but has reached the number in seven fewer starts. In 51 innings, he has allowed just seven earned runs and has walked only 11 opposing batters compared to 34 strikeouts. Jones has yet to give up more than two runs in a start and has gone at least five innings in every contest. He has undeniably become the Chiefs ace. Opponents are hitting just .188 against Jones and there are times he is nearly unhittable.
Kyle Helisek. The lefty has quietly had a very good season for the Chiefs. With the promotion of so many pitchers throughout the year, Helisek has been the one constant and has pitched extremely well. He is 6-4 on the season with a 3.18 ERA, which is good for a tie for 13th in the MWL.
In his last six starts going back to June 7, Helisek has a 2.00 ERA and has not allowed more than two runs. Unfortunately, he has not been able to get the run support as he is 2-3 over that time span. Between Jones and Helisek, the Chiefs have two quality starters at the top of the rotation that could be a force if the team would make the postseason.
Charlie Tilson. Since returning from injury earlier this month, Tilson has been one of the team's best hitters. In his last five games, Tilson is 8-for-21 which is good for a .380 average. He was also a run scoring machine. Tilson scored seven of the team's 31 runs over that time span.
The centerfielder is hitting .290 on the season with two home runs and 19 RBI. He also has a team-leading eight stolen bases. Tilson's return to the lineup has increased the outfield depth and has added another consistent bat in the Chiefs lineup. He will be an important piece going forward.
Jacob Wilson. Since returning from a concussion sustained before the MWL All-Star break, Wilson has not been the same. The second baseman has just four hits and three RBI in his last ten games. His average has fallen all the way to .254 on the season. It is difficult to know if the concussion is still affecting Wilson in any way but it is clear he has not looked the same at the plate. Despite his recent struggles, Wilson still leads the team in RBI with 60 and is ranked eighth in the MWL. He is also second on the team in home runs (12), 11th in the MWL.
Nick Martini. The outfielder has struggled to hit the ball over the last three series. He is just 7 for his last 34, a .206 average. The good news is Martini is seeing the ball well and has drawn seven walks over that time while getting on base at a .357 clip. If Martini can start hitting the ball a little bit better, coupled with his propensity for walks, he can be an on base factor for the Chiefs.
Ildemaro Vargas. The Chiefs shortstop continues to struggle hitting the ball. In his last ten games, Vargas is batting just .179 and has managed to get on base only nine times. Before this recent slump, he was having a pretty good year offensively. But Vargas' average has fallen all the way to .253. If Peoria can find a way to get its middle infield of Vargas and Wilson hitting better, the offense should improve dramatically and hopefully stop being so inconsistent.
7/16 LHP Ben O'Shea assigned to Peoria from State College
7/16 RHP Joey Cuda assigned to Palm Beach from Peoria
Team stats – Season to date
|Offense||Season #||MWL rank of 16|
|Pitching||Season #||MWL rank of 16|
|HR allowed||44||4th fewest|
Midwest League Western Division Standings – second half
|Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN)||16||8||0.667||-||56-36||L2|
|Beloit Snappers (OAK)||16||8||0.667||-||59-35||L1|
|Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU)||13||10||0.565||2.5||51-41||L1|
|Clinton LumberKings (SEA)||12||12||0.500||4||45-48||L1|
|Peoria Chiefs (STL)||12||12||0.500||4||50-41||W2|
|Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL)||11||13||0.458||5||40-49||W1|
|Burlington Bees (LAA)||9||15||0.375||7||35-54||L1|
|Kane County Cougars (CHC)||5||18||0.217||11||35-54||W1|
The Chiefs will head back to Peoria for the next six games against MWL Eastern Division teams. The team will play a three-game series against South Bend (Arizona) starting Wednesday night. Then West Michigan (Detroit) will visit Dozer Park starting Saturday for another three-game set. Both teams have records under .500 this season with a combined 87-102 mark. With the Chiefs home success so far this year, they should play well against South Bend and West Michigan.
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