The week that was
This report covers the period from Wednesday, July 24 through Tuesday, July 30.
Manager Dann Bilardello had to be pleased with his ballclub this week after winning two series and going 4-2. The Peoria Chiefs began the week with three games on the road against Midwest League Western Division-leading Cedar Rapids (Minnesota). The Kernels have been the best team in the division all season long and have a 65-40 record. Peoria was able to take two of three while scoring 18 runs in the series.
The Chiefs then hosted Kane County (Cubs) for another three-game series. After playing one of the best teams in the MWL, Peoria went up against one of the worst. Again, it was the offense leading the team to victory. The Chiefs scored 21 runs and took two of three games from the Cougars.
After the 4-2 week, the Chiefs sit at 19-17 and are in sole possession of fourth place in the MWL Western Division. They trail division-leading Cedar Rapids (Minnesota) by 5.5 games. If the season were to end today Peoria would be in the postseason. The Chiefs right now hold the Wild Card spot in the second half playoff race. They trail Quad Cities by 1.5 games for the top spot.
Wednesday, July 24: Peoria 8 at Cedar Rapids 7 (10 innings)
The Chiefs offense pounded out 14 hits and eight runs as they won in 10 innings. It was one of the team's best offensive games all season. A total of 22 Peoria players reached base. Jacob Wilson went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. Gerwuins Velazco had two hits and a run scored.
Kyle Helisek had a rough start despite being charged for no earned runs. He went two innings and gave up three hits while walking five. The bullpen filled in well, giving up just three runs over eight innings. Zack Russell earned his fourth save of the season.
Thursday, July 25: Peoria 8 at Cedar Rapids 3
For the second game in a row, Peoria scored eight runs, with six coming after the seventh inning. The Chiefs trailed 3-2 before the offensive onslaught blew the game open. C.J. McElroy and Trevor Martin each had three hits. McElroy also had three RBI. Jacob Wilson hit a three-run home run in the seventh to give him 15 on the year.
Ben O'Shea had a good second start for Peoria and earned his first win of the season. The lefty gave up three runs over six innings. He did not walk anyone but allowed ten hits.
Friday, July 26: Peoria 2 at Cedar Rapids 6
Cedar Rapids avoided the sweep with a six-run seventh inning to blow open the ballgame. The Chiefs led 2-0 until starter Chris Perry and reliever Brady Adamek let it get away. Perry went 6 2/3 innings and was great until the seventh. He allowed four runs and struck out three.
The Peoria offense could not stay hot after the previous two games. They had seven hits and left the same number on base.
Saturday, July 27: Kane County 1 at Peoria 4
The Chiefs returned home to win the first game of the set with Kane County. They started the game fast with three runs in the first inning. The first four hitters in the Peoria lineup, C.J. McElroy, Charlie Tilson, Breyvic Valera and Jacob Wilson, combined to go 9-for-16 with four RBI. Nick Martini was the only other Chiefs player with a hit.
Silfredo Garcia was fantastic on the mound and earned his third win. He went six innings and allowed just one run. Sam Tuivailala pitched two innings in relief and gave up no runs. He struck out five. Russell got the save.
Sunday, July 28: Kane County 6 at Peoria 3
Starter Brad Watson was roughed up in five innings of work and took his fourth loss of the season. He gave up four earned runs while walking five.
The offense was not much better as the team managed only six hits and could not take advantage of nine walks. Jacob Wilson had a hit, walk, run scored and a RBI. Nick Martini also had a hit and a run scored.
Monday, July 29: Kane County 1 at Peoria 14
Peoria had its best offensive output of the season as they stomped Kane County to take the series. The Chiefs scored five runs in the first inning and never looked back. The 14 runs was the team's most all season as was the 17 hits. Breyvic Valera and Charlie Tilson each went 4-for-5. Valera, Patrick Wisdom, Ildemaro Vargas, Jeremy Schaffer and Gerwuins Velazco all had a multiple RBI day.
Thomas Lee made his first start of the season in place of Cory Jones and was phenomenal. He got the win and moved to 4-1. Lee went 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on a solo home run. His ERA is now 2.18 in 33 innings. Dixon Llorens pitched the final 3 1/3 frames and gave up just one hit and no runs. He struck out four. Llorens is averaging 14.6 K's per nine innings this season.
Tuesday, July 30: Peoria at Quad Cities (rainout)
The Tuesday night rainout in Davenport has been rescheduled as part of a double-header on Thursday, August 1.
The offense. The Chiefs offense exploded this week and was the most productive it has been all season long. In six games, the team scored 39 runs. On Monday against Kane County, Peoria had a season high 14 runs and 17 hits. When the offense is that productive, the team can be scary good because the backbone all season has been the pitching. If they're scoring runs as well, they will be very tough to beat.
Jacob Wilson. After spending the last few weeks in the "Who's not" hot portion of this report, Wilson has finally broken out of his post All-Star break slump. He is riding a seven-game hitting streak and was one of the major reasons for the offensive explosion this week. In six games against Cedar Rapids and Kane County, Wilson went 9-for-23 with a home run and 10 RBI. He is hitting .368 over his last ten games. Despite his second half struggles, Wilson still leads the team in home runs (15) and RBI (72). He is tied for fourth in the MWL in home runs and is sixth in RBI.
Breyvic Valera. Wilson is not the only Chiefs player on a tear. Valera has a hit in eight of his last ten games and tore the cover off the ball this week. The outfielder went 11-for-25. In his last ten games, he is batting .395. Valera has once again gotten his average above .300 (.304). He has been moved out of the leadoff spot and has settled into the three hole in Dann Bilardello's lineup. Valera ranks 10th in the MWL in batting average.
Gerwuins Velazco. Velazco began the season as the starting catcher for the Chiefs. But his early offensive struggles kept him out of the lineup. But with injuries and promotions to other catchers, Velazco finds himself back behind the plate every day. He arguably had his best week at the plate all season. The Venezuela native went 6-for-17 in five games against Cedar Rapids and Kane County. He also scored six runs. Any offense out of Velazco is huge plus for Peoria. He still batting just .189 overall.
Silfredo Garcia. The right-handed starter followed one of his worst starts of the season on July 20 against West Michigan (Detroit) with one of his best Saturday. Garcia went six innings and allowed only one run against Kane County. The lone run came on a solo home run. He also only gave up four hits and one walk while striking out four. Garcia was dominant and looked better than I have seen him all season. He is 3-3 on the year and has a 4.57 ERA.
Kyle Helisek. The lefty has been the Chiefs most consistent starter all season long, but he definitely had a start to forget against Cedar Rapids last Wednesday. Helisek made through just two innings. While he was not charged for any earned runs, he gave up three hits, five walks and four runs. Helisek should be fine. Bad starts happen for everyone. He is still 7-4 and has a 2.97 ERA overall.
7/29 1B Jordan Walton placed on Disabled List, backdated to 7/25
7/25 RHP Cory Jones placed on Disabled List, backdated to 7/23
The Chiefs received a huge blow this week as two major pieces of the team headed to the disabled list. Jordan Walton re-aggravated a previous finger injury last Wednesday and was finally placed on the DL on Monday. He is not expected to be out for a long period of time, though Peoria will miss his offense no matter how long he is out of the lineup.
The team's best starting pitcher over the last couple of months was also placed on the DL. Cory Jones has a hip flexor strain and it is unclear how much time he will miss. The right-hander is tied for the team-lead in wins with seven and has a 1.58 ERA. The Chiefs will need his pitching down the stretch heading into the playoffs.
Team stats – Season to date
|Offense||Season #||MWL rank of 16|
|Pitching||Season #||MWL rank of 16|
|Walks||300||Fewest in MWL|
|HR allowed||53||4th fewest|
Midwest League Western Division Standings – second half
|Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN)||25||12||.676||-||65-40||L1|
|Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU)||20||15||.571||4.0||58-46||W2|
|Beloit Snappers (OAK)||20||17||.541||5.0||63-44||L3|
|Peoria Chiefs (STL)||19||17||.528||5.5||57-46||W1|
|Clinton LumberKings (SEA)||17||20||.459||8.0||50-56||W1|
|Burlington Bees (LAA)||15||22||.405||10.0||41-61||W2|
|Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL)||15||22||.405||10.0||44-58||L2|
|Kane County Cougars (CHC)||11||22||.306||13.5||41-61||W1|
The Chiefs will begin a huge four-game series at the Quad Cities (Houston) Wednesday night. They trail the Bandits by 1.5 games in the standings for the top second half playoff spot. Peoria is currently in the Wild Card spot. The two teams will play a double header on Thursday and wrap up the series on Friday.
The Chiefs will then return home for a week with a four-game series with Burlington (Angels) followed by a set with Wisconsin (Milwaukee). Peoria has 34 games remaining, with 22 of those coming against teams below them in the standings.
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