Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2013 Week 16

For the second consecutive week, the St. Louis Cardinals Midwest League club won one series and lost another to finish 3-3. The highlight of the week for the Peoria Chiefs came Monday night as starter Cory Jones fanned 12.

The week that was

This report covers the period from Wednesday, July 17 through Tuesday, July 23.

This week, manager Dann Bilardello's ballclub had its first long home stand in almost a month. The Chiefs, after playing great at home all year, managed to go just 3-3, however. The week started out in a promising manner with a 2-1 pitching duel victory over South Bend (Arizona). Peoria then lost another low scoring game before claiming the series in the rubber match with a 7-5 victory.

The Chiefs then hosted West Michigan (Detroit) for another three-game series. This time the results were not as good. The team struggled offensively, scoring just four runs in two games and dropped them both. Then, Cory Jones - with help from the offense - shut the door on the Whitecaps in the final game to avoid the sweep.

After a 3-3 week, the Peoria Chiefs sit at 15-15 and are in sole possession of fourth place in the Midwest League Western Division second-half standings. They trail division-leading Cedar Rapids (Minnesota) by six games.

Game summaries

Wednesday, July 17: South Bend 1 at Peoria 2

The Chiefs mustered just enough offense, plating runs in the fourth and seventh innings, to earn the victory. Ildemaro Vargas had two of the team's five hits. Jacob Wilson went 1-for-3 with a solo home run.

Kyle Helisek was great on the mound for Peoria. He went seven innings allowing five hits and one run. Helisek struck out six. Thomas Lee and Zack Russell pitched two scoreless innings in relief to hold onto the one-run win.

Thursday, July 18: South Bend 3 at Peoria 2

The game was tied 2-2 heading to the eighth inning but South Bend scored and the Chiefs could not respond as the Silver Hawks took game two of the series.

Charlie Tilson, Breyvic Valera and Nick Martini all had two hits. Martini and Valera each had a RBI.

Ben O'Shea made his pitching debut for Peoria and went four innings, allowing two runs.

Friday, July 19: South Bend 5 at Peoria 7

The Chiefs took the rubber match of the series as the bats came alive late. The offense scored in every inning from the fourth through the eighth. Charlie Tilson and Nick Martini again led the way. Tilson was 3-for-4 with two RBI. Martini had two hits and two RBI. Jeremy Schaffer hit a solo home run in sixth inning.

Chris Perry made his second start for Peoria and was sharp. The righty showed impressive stuff and composure on the mound. He gave up three runs over seven innings of work. Perry struck out six. His only real trouble was two home runs allowed.

Saturday, July 20: West Michigan 5 at Peoria 4

Jacob Wilson and Ildemaro Vargas broke out of their slumps in a big way but it was not enough as West Michigan took game one of the series. Wilson was 3-for-4 with a solo home run in the first inning. Vargas also had three hits and a run scored.

The rest of the Chiefs offense was not as good. The team combined to go 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.

Silfredo Garcia made the start and was not very effective in his six innings. He gave up eight hits, three walks and five runs. Garcia fell to 2-3 on the season. Thomas Lee pitched an impressive three scoreless innings in relief, lowering his ERA to 2.59.

Sunday, July 21: West Michigan 2 at Peoria 0

For the first time all season, the Chiefs were shut out at home and in doing so, spoiled a great pitching performance by Brad Watson. Watson went eight innings, giving up just five hits and two runs, both solo home runs. Other than that, the right-hander was dominant in the best of his five starts in a Peoria uniform.

The offense managed just four hits and five base runners in the entire ballgame. No Chiefs player had more than one hit.

Monday, July 22: West Michigan 3 at Peoria 7

Starter Cory Jones struck out 12 Whitecaps and the team had a season-high 19 strikeouts. Jones moved to 7-1 on the season with an impressive 1.58 ERA. He gave up three runs over six innings on Monday.

The offense also came alive, scoring seven runs on 11 hits. They were 6-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Breyvic Valera, Jacob Wilson, Patrick Wisdom and Trevor Martin all had two hits. Wisdom tied a career high with four RBI and also scored a run.

Who's hot

Charlie Tilson. The outfielder has really ignited the Chiefs offense since returning from injury a few weeks ago. Over his last ten starts, Tilson is batting .333 with eight runs scored. In the recent home stand against South Bend and West Michigan, he was 8-for-23 and arguably the team's best hitter. Tilson looked better at the plate than he has all season and even stole four bases. On the season, he is hitting .295 with two home runs and 21 RBI. If injuries had not affected him for most of the year, those numbers would be even higher.

Cory Jones. Jones continues to impress week after week after week. My guess is he is not long for low Single-A. This week, the right-hander gave up more runs than he has in any other start but still allowed just three. Despite that, he was still dominant, striking out 12 batters in just six innings and making many West Michigan hitters look extremely foolish. There is no doubt Jones has the stuff for the next level. His seven wins are tied for the best on the team with Kyle Helisek, but Jones has done it in seven fewer starts.

Dixon Llorens. The right-handed reliever has struggled with injuries for much of the season and has had two stints on the disabled list. But when he has been on the mound, Llorens has been fantastic (outside of a rough stretch after his first injury). He returned from the disabled list this week and had two great appearances. In each, Llorens pitched two innings and allowed no runs. But the most impressive part was the fact he recorded strikeouts to retire 11 of the 12 batters. In his last 11 1/3 innings, Llorens has struck out 23 batters. He could be a huge weapon out of the bullpen down the stretch when the team is in need of a huge K.

Ildemaro Vargas. After really struggling for the better part of a month, Vargas finds himself on the good side of this column after a great home stand. The shortstop went 8-for-21 in the six games this week and scored three runs. He also had three RBI. When the Chiefs get production from Vargas, they are a much better team, though they did not show it this week. If he continues to hit well, it will be a huge bonus for the entire lineup.

Who's not

Jacob Wilson. Since the All-Star Break and his return from a concussion, Wilson has not been able to find his stride. In some games, he looks like the player he was in the first half, but other times, he looks completely lost. In his six of his last 10 games, Wilson went hitless with five strikeouts. In the series with West Michigan, he hit well, going 5-for-12 in the opener. But he looked terrible at the plate in the second game, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. So Wilson is hard to figure out. Hopefully, he is on the right track because the Chiefs could really use his offense.

Jordan Walton. For as good as Walton was last week, he was equally bad this week. In five games, he had one hit in 16 at-bats while striking out four times. Walton did not look comfortable at the plate and was swinging at pitches out of the zone all weekend. It is nothing to be alarmed about as short slumps like that happen all the time. Walton should be back to himself soon. He is still hitting .288 on the season and has 40 RBI.

Transactions

7/20 OF Trevor Martin assigned to Peoria from State College
7/20 RHP Mike Aldrete assigned to State College from Peoria
7/17 OF Jimmy Parque assigned to Palm Beach from Peoria
7/17 RHP Dixon Llorens activated from the Disabled List

Injuries

RHP Chris Thomas remains on the Disabled List
C Adam Ehrlich remains on the Disabled List

Team stats – Season to date

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16
BA 0.253 9th
Runs 438 9th
OPS 0.684 13th
Doubles 120 14th
HR 48 T-13th
Steals 67 16th
     
Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
ERA 3.66 6th
Ks 786 4th
Walks 285 Fewest in MWL
HR allowed 50 4th fewest
Saves 27 T-6th

Midwest League Western Division Standings – second half

Club W L PCT GB Overall Stk
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 21 9 0.700 - 61-37 W2
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 18 12 0.600 3 61-39 W1
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 16 13 0.552 4.5 54-44 W1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 15 15 0.500 6 53-44 W1
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 14 16 0.467 7 47-52 L1
Burlington Bees (LAA) 12 18 0.400 9 38-57 L2
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 12 18 0.400 9 41-54 W1
Kane County Cougars (CHC) 7 22 0.241 13.5 37-58 L1

What's next

The Chiefs will head back on the road for three games against first place Cedar Rapids (Minnesota) starting tonight. It will be a good test for Peoria who need to win some games against the top of the division. The team will then return home for a weekend set with Kane County (Cubs). The Chiefs are generally good at home and the Cougars are the worst team in the MWL Western division so winning the series is imperative. Peoria will then begin next week back on the road at the Quad Cities (Houston).



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