Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2013 Week 19

The St. Louis Cardinals Midwest League club continued to play .500 baseball in the second half of the season with a 3-3 week. C.J. McElroy and Charlie Tilson are hitting the ball well at the top of the Peoria Chiefs batting order.

The week that was

This report covers the period from Wednesday, August 7 through Tuesday, August 13.

Manager Dann Bilardello's ballclub managed to go 3-3 this week despite the offense continuing to struggle. In six games, the Peoria Chiefs scored just 17 runs against Wisconsin (Milwaukee) and Clinton (Seattle), teams which rank in the bottom half of the Midwest League in most pitching categories. Bilardello will need to figure out the team's offensive funk if they want to ensure their playoff berth and especially if they want to advance in the postseason.

The Chiefs began the week by beating Wisconsin twice at home in low scoring pitching duels. Peoria had the opportunity for the sweep in the third game but could not get it done. They settled by taking two of three from the Timber Rattlers. Peoria then traveled to Clinton to face the LumberKings. After winning the first game, they dropped each of the next two to lose the series and finish .500 for the week.

After a 3-3 week, the Chiefs sit at 25-25 for the second half and are in third place in the MWL Western Division. If the season would end today, Peoria would be in the playoffs. Two teams earn postseason bids for the second half. With Cedar Rapids (Minnesota) already earning a first half playoff spot, the Wild Card spot currently belongs to the Chiefs. They trail Quad Cities by 5.5 games for the top spot. But Clinton is just one game behind Peoria from claiming the Wild Card spot instead.

Game summaries

Wednesday, August 7: Wisconsin 1 at Peoria 3

The offense pounded out 10 hits and Chris Perry was excellent on the mound to give Peoria a victory in game one of the series. Perry went seven innings, allowing just one earned run. He scattered seven hits and struck out four. It was the right-hander's second win of the season. Joey Donofrio pitched two scoreless innings in relief and fanned five Timber Rattlers.

Newcomer Juan Herrera led the offense, going 3-for-3, while Jordan Walton had two hits with an RBI and run scored.

Thursday, August 8: Wisconsin 1 at Peoria 2 (10 innings)

Starter Silfredo Garcia threw a gem for the Chiefs and the team won in walk off fashion in extra innings. Garcia went nine innings and allowed no earned runs and just six hits. Unfortunately for him, he did not earn the win as Dixon Llorens threw a perfect 10th inning to move to 2-2 on the season.

C.J. McElroy led off the bottom of the 10th inning with a single then Charlie Tilson drove in the winning run with a triple. Both players had two hits in the ballgame. Breyvic Valera went 3-for-3 and had the other run scored.

Friday, August 9: Wisconsin 4 at Peoria 2

Peoria struggled offensively and the pitching did not fare much better as Wisconsin avoided the three-game sweep. The Chiefs managed just three hits. Jeremy Schaffer had one of those hits with a solo home run in the seventh inning. Charlie Tilson and Juan Herrera were the others with base hits.

Brad Watson made the start and went six innings, allowing four runs. He struck out eight but took the loss to fall to 2-5 on the season. Watson has a 4.05 ERA.

Saturday, August 10: Peoria 4 at Clinton 2

The Chiefs trailed the LumberKings 2-1 after seven innings, but came alive in the eighth with three runs to take the win. C.J. McElroy, Charlie Tilson and Jordan Walton all had multi-hit games. Tilson added two runs scored and a RBI.

Mike Mayers was fantastic on the mound. In six innings, the right-hander allowed four hits and no runs. In two starts with the Chiefs, the 2013 third-rounder has a 0.84 ERA and has allowed just one run.

Sunday, August 11: Peoria 5 at Clinton 6

After winning on a walk off earlier in the week, the Chiefs were the victims of one in the bottom of the ninth inning. Steve Sabatino allowed a single to Jordy Lara to give Clinton the victory. In Sabatino's debut with the Chiefs, he pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief and allowed just the one run.

Kyle Helisek started for Peoria and went six innings, giving up four runs. C.J. McElroy stayed hot, collecting three hits and three RBI. Charlie Tilson and Gerwuins Velazco each had two hits. As a team, the Chiefs left nine men on base and were 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Monday, August 12: Peoria 1 at Clinton 7

Ben O'Shea had a terrible start and the offense only managed one run in losing the series to Clinton. O'Shea managed to make it through only four innings. He gave up 11 hits and six runs, bloating his ERA to 6.75 in five starts.

The offense was not much better. They had only six hits and were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Shortstop Juan Herrera scored the only run for the Chiefs after reaching base on a walk. Charlie Tilson saw his five-game hit streak come to an end as he went 0-for-3 with a walk.

Who's hot

Charlie Tilson. The outfielder has been the hitting the ball extremely well as of late. Tilson usually bats in the two hole in manager Dann Bilardello's lineup. He is batting .350 over his last ten games and was riding a five-game hitting streak until it was snapped Monday night against Clinton.

For the season, Tilson is hitting .299 with two home runs and 28 RBI. With so many of the big bats in the Chiefs lineup having been promoted (Jacob Wilson and Patrick Wisdom), the team has become even more reliant on Tilson to produce. So far he has answered the call.

C.J. McElroy. The Peoria leadoff man had a great week offensively. He has struggled to hit the ball for much of the season but was 8-for-22 in five starts this week. McElroy also had three RBI and three runs scored to go along with two triples.

The speedster is batting just .259 this season but can be extremely dangerous if he reaches base. His OBP is .311. The more he is on base for the RBI guys to drive him in, the better off the Chiefs will be offensively. They will need McElroy to continue to produce down the stretch.

Trevor Martin. The newcomer continues to hit the ball well, and with Patrick Wisdom called up to Palm Beach, Martin will have even more opportunities to get starts at third base. In his last ten games with the Chiefs, he is hitting .441 with a home run and 10 RBI.

Martin needs to be the guy in the middle of the order who hits for power with Wilson and Wisdom now gone. So far he has proven he can be that guy, but Peoria will need it to continue during the last few weeks of the season.

Mike Mayers. In two starts with the Chiefs since being called up from the Gulf Coast League, Mayers has been fantastic. The right-hander has proven that he was ready for Single-A baseball. In 10 2/3 innings, Mayers has allowed just one run on a solo home run. He has given up just nine hits and only walked one batter. Unfortunately, that has not led to a win, as he took a no decision in both contests. Mayers has a 0.84 ERA and will be needed to turn in quality starts down the stretch, especially with Cory Jones on the Disabled List.

Who's not

Kyle Helisek. The left-handed starter has really struggled in August. In two starts, Helisek has pitched 8 2/3 innings and allowed nine runs and 16 hits. His ERA in the month is a whopping 9.34. He has struggled with command and locating the ball in the spots he wants to. Helisek had been pitching so well in July so hopefully this is just a hiccup in his last two starts. He had turned into the ace of the rotation and will need to regain that form for the Chiefs to be successful.

Transactions

8/10 - LHP Steve Sabatino assigned to Peoria Chiefs from Johnson City
8/7 - 3B Patrick Wisdom assigned to Palm Beach from Peoria

Injuries

RHP Cory Jones remains on the Disabled List
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 0.256 9th
Runs 518 10th
OPS 0.686 13th
Doubles 174 15th
HR 54 16th
Steals 85 14th
     
Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
ERA 3.64 3rd
Ks 943 3rd
Walks 327 Fewest in MWL
HR allowed 59 3rd fewest
Saves 34 6th

Midwest League Western Division Standings – second half

Club W L PCT GB Overall  Stk
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 32 18 0.640 - 72-46 L1
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 30 19 0.612 1.5 68-50 L1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 25 25 0.500 7 63-54 L2
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 24 26 0.480 8 67-53 L1
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 24 26 0.480 8 57-62 W2
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 22 28 0.440 10 51-64 W1
Burlington Bees (LAA) 20 30 0.400 12 46-69 W1
Kane County Cougars (CHC) 18 31 0.367 14 48-67 W1

What's next

The Chiefs had their final off day of the season on Tuesday and have 20 games remaining until the end of the regular season. The team has exactly 10 home and road games left. Wednesday night, they begin a three-game series against Wisconsin on the road before heading back home for seven straight games at Dozer Park. It will start Saturday with four contests against Cedar Rapids (Minnesota). Then Peoria will host Burlington (Angels) for three.



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