The week that was
This report covers the period from Wednesday, July 31 through Tuesday, August 6.
Manager Dann Bilardello's ballclub struggled this week in eight games going 3-5. The Peoria Chiefs began the week with four games on the road against Midwest League Western Division leading Quad Cities (Houston). The Chiefs did not play well against Quad Cities and were swept in four games. The Peoria offense slumped big time, scoring only nine runs in the series.
The Chiefs then hosted Burlington (Angels) for another four-game set. The team played much better at home, taking three of four from the Bees. Peoria received great starting pitching and was able to win two one-run games.
After the 3-5 week, the Chiefs sit at 22-22 and are tied for fourth place with Beloit (Oakland) in the MWL Western Division. If the season would end today, Peoria would be in the postseason. The Chiefs currently hold the Wild Card spot in the second half playoff race. They trail the Quad Cities by 5.5 games for the top spot.
Wednesday, July 31: Peoria 3 at Quad Cities 4
The Chiefs had a 3-1 lead heading to the bottom of the ninth inning but Quad Cities scored three to steal the victory. The Peoria bullpen spoiled a great start by Kyle Helisek, who went six allowing no runs. He also struck out six. Joey Donofrio blew the save.
Trevor Martin led the offense, going 3-for-4 with two RBI. Martin was the only Chiefs player with multiple hits.
Thursday, August 1: Peoria 3 at Quad Cities 5 (Game 1, 7 innings)
For the second game in a row, Peoria held a 3-1 lead late in the game but was not able to hold on. This time, starter Ben O'Shea got in trouble in the fifth inning. The River Bandits scored three runs in the frame and held on for the 5-3 victory. O'Shea was charged with four earned runs and his first loss since joining Peoria.
Thursday, August 1: Peoria 1 at Quad Cities 2 (Game 2, 7 innings)
Peoria struggled offensively in the second game of the double header. The team managed just four hits with Nick Martini again having two. Martini went 4-for-5 in the two games. He drove in the only run of the game for the Chiefs in the fourth inning.
Starter Chris Perry was fantastic, going five innings, allowing one run. He gave up four hits while fanning eight. The right-hander lowered his ERA to 3.04 on the season. Perry earned the no decision and has a 1-1 record in four starts with the team. Brady Adamek took the loss.
Friday, August 2: Peoria 2 at Quad Cities 5
The Quad Cities finished the four-game sweep with five unanswered runs after the Chiefs scored two in the first inning. Peoria had no problem hitting the ball but could not get timely hits. They had 12 hits and left 12 on base. The Chiefs were just 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position. C.J. McElroy, Bruce Caldwell, Jordan Walton and Breyvic Valera all had two-hit games. Walton and Valera each drove in a run.
Silfredo Garcia took the loss for Peoria. He went five innings and allowed four runs. The right-hander has a 4.67 ERA this year.
Saturday, August 3: Burlington 1 at Peoria 2
The Chiefs got revenge for Wednesday's walk off loss with a come-from-behind victory in the ninth. Peoria trailed 1-0 when they rallied with singles by Jordan Walton and Patrick Wisdom. Breyvic Valera drove in Walton with a groundout to the right side. Then Wisdom scored the game-winning run when Ildemaro Vargas hit a groundball between third base and the mound and beat the throw to first.
Sunday, August 4: Burlington 1 at Peoria 3
The Chiefs won another pitching duel behind starter Mike Mayers who made his first start for the team. He pitched just 4 2/3 innings but allowed only one run. The bullpen then came on and did their job well. Joey Donofrio went 2 1/3 scoreless innings then Dixon Llorens closed out the Bees with two hitless innings of his own.
Charlie Tilson went 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Breyvic Valera also had a good day at the plate. He collected two hits and drove in a run.
Monday, August 5: Burlington 8 at Peoria 9
Peoria used the long ball to beat Burlington in a high-scoring game. Jeremy Schaffer hit two home runs and Trevor Martin added another. Each had two hits and two runs scored. Martin had five RBI. C.J. McElroy had only one hit but drove in two runs. The Chiefs offense scored eight runs in the first three innings.
Kyle Helisek struggled on the mound. He allowed five runs in 2 2/3 innings. Helisek also walked two. Thomas Lee also went 2 2/3 in relief and gave up eight hits and three runs.
Tuesday, August 6: Burlington 4 at Peoria 1
Ben O'Shea made the start and pitched well. The lefty gave up three runs over 5 2/3 innings of work. But the Peoria offense could not get anything going all night. They managed eight hits but left eight men on base and were just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Trevor Martin led the Chiefs going 3-for-4 with an RBI. C.J. McElroy also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4.
Trevor Martin. Martin has been a great addition to the Chiefs lineup since being called up two weeks ago. The third baseman is 15-for-27 in nine games and has really sparked the offense at times. In two games against Burlington this week, Martin was 5-for-7 with six RBI and two runs scored. The only thing holding Martin back is that he playing behind Patrick Wisdom at third base. He should continue to get some starts in the field while also playing as the designated hitter.
Breyvic Valera. After having some troubles around the All-Star break, Valera has once again found his stroke. The switch-hitting utility player is batting .378 over his last ten starts. His average had dipped below .300 but is back up to .306 on the season. That leads the team and is 10th in the MWL.
Dixon Llorens. The right-handed reliever has been lights out and earned MWL Pitcher of the Week honors last week. In his last 16 innings, he has given up no runs and has fanned 30 batters while walking just three. He has nine saves on the season and has really stabilized the backend of Dann Bilardello's bullpen. Llorens ERA is 3.25 but that number is misleading due to a couple miserable outings after he returned from the disabled list in June.
Ildemaro Vargas. Things were starting to look up offensively for Vargas but the shortstop has once again fallen into a slump. He went just 2-for-14 in the series against Burlington. His average is now only .248 on the season. Over his last ten starts, Vargas is batting .182. The Chiefs really need more offense from him. With Juan Herrera being called up from State College Vargas will have some competition behind him.
8/6 IF Juan Herrera assigned to Peoria from State College
8/1 IF/OF Jordan Walton activated from Disabled List
7/31 IF Jacob Wilson assigned to Palm Beach from Peoria
7/31 RHP Zach Russell assigned to Springfield from Peoria
7/31 RHP Mike Mayers assigned to Peoria from GCL Cardinals
7/31 IF Bruce Caldwell assigned to Peoria from State College
Team stats – Season to date
|Offense||Season #||MWL rank of 16|
|Pitching||Season #||MWL rank of 16|
|Walks||319||Fewest in MWL|
|HR allowed||57||3rd fewest|
Midwest League Western Division Standings – second half
|Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU)||27||16||.628||-||65-47||W2|
|Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN)||27||17||.614||0.5||67-45||L2|
|Beloit Snappers (OAK)||22||22||.500||5.5||65-49||L3|
|Peoria Chiefs (STL)||22||22||.500||5.5||60-51||L1|
|Clinton LumberKings (SEA)||21||23||.477||6.5||54-59||L1|
|Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL)||19||25||.432||8.5||48-61||W3|
|Burlington Bees (LAA)||18||26||.409||9.5||44-65||W1|
|Kane County Cougars (CHC)||15||28||.349||12.0||45-64||W1|
The Chiefs have hit the stretch run of the season and need to play their best baseball to secure a playoff spot. They have 26 games remaining with 13 of those at home.
The team faces Wisconsin (Milwaukee) starting Wednesday night in a three-game series at Dozer Park. They will then head on the road to face Clinton (Seattle) this weekend before visiting Wisconsin at the end of next week.
That is nine games coming up against teams below Peoria in the standings. The Chiefs will need to play well to try to build momentum heading into the playoffs.
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