Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2014 Week 2

The St. Louis Cardinals Single-A club had a winning first home stand of the 2014 Midwest League season.

The week that was

This report covers the period from Tuesday, April 8 through Monday, April 14.

The Peoria Chiefs opened their home portion of the 2014 schedule with a pitchers' duel and finished with a 3-2 home stand before hitting the road against the Lake County Captains (Indians) and taking the first contest.

In the first series, the team dropped two out of three to the Dayton Dragons (Reds). The Chiefs won a close game Tuesday and were down one run late Wednesday before the Dragons pulled away for the win. The Dragons took the finale Thursday, April 10 to win the series.

The Chiefs swept a rain-shortened series against the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays). The team scored 17 total runs in the series, despite the third game being cancelled due to rain.

Overall, thanks to a three-game winning streak, the club is 6-4, two games out of first place.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, April 8: Peoria Chiefs 1, Dayton Dragons 0
The Chiefs won their home opener thanks to an excellent pitching performance. Starter Nick Petree pitched five scoreless innings, striking out six. He only allowed two hits, but surrendered five walks.

The Chiefs' lone run came in the sixth inning. Dragons starter Junior Morillo left the game after injuring himself before a 3-2 pitch to Mason Katz. Daniel Wright came out of the Dayton bullpen and promptly walked Katz, then balked him over to second. Ronald Castillo then brought Katz home with a single to shallow centerfield.

Zach Loraine, Chris Perry and Chris Thomas combined with Petree to complete the shutout.

Wednesday, April 9: Dayton Dragons 4 at Peoria Chiefs 1
The Dragons jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the middle game of the series. A walk and a pair of singles to lead off the game loaded the bases with nobody out. Jeff Gelalich lined a two-run single to right field to start the scoring.

C.J. McElroy Jr. reached on a bunt single in the third inning, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a groundout by Katz to plate the Chiefs' only run.

Arturo Reyes (0-1) started for Peoria, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on four hits. He walked three while striking out four en route to his first loss of the season.

Thursday, April 10: Dayton Dragons 4 at Peoria Chiefs 0
The Dragons jumped out to a 3-0 lead behind four hits and a walk in the opening inning against starter Jimmy Reed. Reed settled down, giving up just four hits while striking out four over his next five innings.

The Chiefs put together back-to-back base hits in the second and third innings. A groundout by Cesar Valera ended the second inning and Kenny Peoples-Walls hit into a double play to kill the third inning rally.

Kevin Herget walked a pair of Dragon batters in the eighth inning before being pulled for Chris Thomas. Thomas gave up an RBI double to Sammy Diaz to score the Dragons' final run.

Friday, April 11: Peoria Chiefs 6, Bowling Green Hot Rods 5
The Chiefs rallied from an early 2-1 deficit to beat the Hot Rods in the series opener. Ronald Castillo hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning to give Peoria a 3-2 lead.

Steve Bean and Valera singled in the fourth with one out. After a fielder's choice erased the runner at second, McElroy Jr. doubled home Bean to extend the lead. Juan Herrera's single knocked in the other two Chiefs runs.

Silfredo Garcia worked five innings and picked up his first win of the season. He gave up four runs (two earned) on three hits, walking four and striking out three. Blake McKnight pitched 2 2/3 innings, giving up just one run before turning it over to Loraine for the four-out save.

Saturday, April 12: Peoria Chiefs 11, Bowling Green Hot Rods 8
The Chiefs rallied from another early deficit to earn a sweep of the Hot Rods. After falling behind 5-0, Herrera doubled and promptly scored on Carson Kelly's first home run this season. One pitch later, Castillo homered for the second time in the series, making it 5-3.

Two singles and a hit batsmen loaded the bases for the Chiefs in the fifth. Peoples-Walls knocked in two of those runners with an RBI double down the right field line to tie the game at 5.

A three-run homer gave the Hot Rods a temporary 8-5 lead, but Castillo smacked a grand slam, his third homer of the series and second of the game, over the center field wall. Katz made it back-to-back blasts with a solo home run right after.

Sunday, April 13: Bowling Green Hot Rods at Peoria Chiefs CANCELLED
Due to severe weather in the Peoria area, the series finale was cancelled. Since this is the only time the two teams meet this season, the game will not be made up.

Monday, April 14: Peoria Chiefs 9 at Lake County Captains 6
The Chiefs offense stayed hot, even as the weather cooled off in northeast Ohio. After rain delayed the start of the game for about an hour and a half, the Chiefs offense came out swinging. The team put up four runs in the opening inning behind a single, two walks and a pair of doubles.

They added a run in the second and another in the fourth for a 6-1 lead. Sloppy defense led to a grand slam by the Captains' Grant Fink, cutting the lead to 6-5. But, thanks to a hit batter, a pair of wild pitches, and a throwing error, the Chiefs tacked on three more runs in the eighth on just one hit.

Kevin Herget picked up the win in relief of Alex Reyes, who did not return to the game after a second rain delay. Herget pitched 3 2/3 innings, giving up four unearned runs on two hits.

Lineup Shuffle

Juan Herrera was moved to the two spot in the batting order after Wednesday's game against the Dragons. Mason Katz was dropped down after hitting just .176 to start the season. Herrera's overall production has gone up: he is hitting 4-for-16 with 2 RBI and 5 runs scored since the move.

Who's Hot

Ronald Castillo. The outfielder's three home runs over the weekend tied him with Katz for the team lead. He also took over as the Chiefs' new RBI leader with 12. After an 0-for-3 night in the 4-1 loss to Dayton on Wednesday, Castillo was given the day off Thursday and responded with a 4-for-5, two home run game against the Hot Rods Friday, raising his average from .200 to .310.

Chris Thomas. Thomas has yet to give up a run in the 2014 season. The 26-year-old made two appearances over the week, shutting down the opponent both times he took the mound. In those two games, he allowed just one hit while striking out a batter. Thomas came into the home opener against the Dragons with the winning run on base and ended the game on one pitch: a weakly-hit ground ball back to the mound.

Who's Not

Jake Stone. Jake was mentioned here last week and it has not gotten any better for the Chiefs' first baseman. After collecting just two hits in his first 12 at-bats, Jake has tallied just one in his last 19. Stone's average has dropped to below .100 on the season, and he has been moved all the way down to eighth in the batting order. After being given the day off Friday, the left-handed hitter went a combined 0-for-10 in his last two games.

Chase Brookshire. Brookshire was touched up for five runs in his last outing, a short 2 2/3 inning affair on Saturday. He walked two and struck out two in the game, but was not given a decision in the Chiefs' comeback win. After that outing, his ERA now sits at 6.48 for the season. The lefty has given up six earned runs in just over eight innings pitched. Brookshire has only made two starts this season, however, and the first one was decent enough, so a rebound outing could be in the cards for him.

Transactions

None.

Injuries

Gerwuins Velazco remains on the disabled list (knee).

Team stats – Season to date

The Chiefs offense remains in the middle of the MWL pack, while the pitching is performing better than average. However, the high walk and home run rates could bite them.

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16
BA 0.247 8th
Runs 44 T-10th
OPS 0.684 9th
Doubles 14 13th
HR 7 4th
Steals 8 T-11th
     
Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
ERA 3.43 6th
Strikeouts 77 T-8th
Walks 50 Most in MWL
HR allowed 9 T-Most
Saves 5 T-1st

Midwest League Western Division Standings

Peoria sits just 1 1/2 games out, well within striking distance.

Club W L PCT GB L 10 Stk
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 8 3 0.727 - 7-3 W6
Kane County Cougars (CHC) 7 3 0.700 0.5 7-3 W4
Burlington Bees (LAA) 6 4 0.600 1.5 6-4 W1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 6 4 0.600 1.5 6-4 W3
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 6 4 0.600 1.5 6-4 W2
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 5 5 0.500 2.5 5-5 L2
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 5 5 0.500 2.5 5-5 L1
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 4 6 0.400 3.5 4-6 L4

What's Next

The Chiefs will continue their series at Lake County Tuesday night. Right-hander Nick Petree (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will face fellow righty Dace Kime (0-2, 17.05). The team then heads to Fort Wayne, Indiana to open up a three-game series against the TinCaps (Padres).



Follow Garth Shanklin on Twitter @GarthShanklin.

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