Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2014 Week 3

The Cardinals' Single-A club dropped three straight in Fort Wayne but are just 1 ½ games out of first place.

The week that was

This report covers the period from Tuesday, April 15 to Monday, April 21.

The early returns from last week looked great for the Chiefs, but the team crashed in a weekend series against the Ft. Wayne TinCaps (Padres) before rallying to take the opener of a four-game set against the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Twins).

The team is tied for third place in the Midwest League Western Division with a 9-7 record, just 1 ½ games back of first-place Kane County (Cubs).

Game Summaries

Tuesday, April 15: Postponed
The game scheduled for Tuesday was snowed out. It was made up as part of two seven-inning games on Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 16, Game 1: Peoria Chiefs 4 at Lake County Captains 0
The Chiefs' pitching staff turned in the first of two dominating performances in game one of the doubleheader. Starter Nick Petree went six innings, allowing four hits and striking out five.

Kyle Barraclough came on in relief and pitched the final inning. He gave up just one hit while striking out a batter to close out the game.

Offensively, Ronald Castillo led the Chiefs with two hits. The 21-year-old had two singles and an RBI from the cleanup spot. Third baseman Michael Schulze, batting ninth, picked up a hit and scored twice.

Wednesday, April 16, Game 2: Peoria Chiefs 4 at Lake County Captains 0
The second dominating performance was by Arturo Reyes. The right-hander went six innings and did not allow a hit until the fifth, striking out a career-high eight along the way.

The Chiefs put up two in the fourth thanks to a triple by Jimmy Bosco and singles by Castillo and Steve Bean. Peoria added two more in the fifth on Bosco's two-RBI single.

Chris Thomas surrendered two walks to make things interesting in the seventh, but struck out a pair of batters to close out the game. Bosco and Bean combined for four of the Chiefs' seven hits, while leadoff hitter C.J. McElroy Jr. picked up a run scored from the leadoff spot.

Thursday, April 17: Fort Wayne TinCaps 6, Peoria Chiefs 5
The Chiefs started strong in the first game of this series. McElroy led off the game with a triple and scored on an error. Peoria tacked on two more runs in the third inning, aided by a balk, and led 3-0.

The lead didn't last long, however, as the TinCaps rallied in the bottom of the inning. Four of the first five hitters in the inning reached base, scoring four runs and giving Ft. Wayne a 4-3 lead.

The Chiefs scored two more runs on doubles by Castillo and Kenny Peoples-Walls and a single by Castillo. However, the Chiefs couldn't hold the lead, and the Tin Caps scored a run in the eighth before ending the game with an RBI single in the ninth.

Jimmy Reed started for the Chiefs, pitching five innings and giving up four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts. Joe Scanio took the loss, surrendering two runs in 1 2/3 innings.

Friday, April 18: Fort Wayne TinCaps 9, Peoria Chiefs 4
Peoria starter Silfredo Garcia surrendered seven runs (four earned) on eleven hits in his five innings of work. Blake McKnight worked the final three innings for the Chiefs and allowed the other two runs.

The majority of the Chiefs' offense came in the fifth inning. They scored three runs starting with a double by Jake Stone, which knocked in Mason Katz. Then, after a base hit by Schulze, shortstop Cesar Valera hit a single that scored two.

The Chiefs were led by Valera, who tallied two hits, both singles, in five at-bats.

Saturday, April 19: Fort Wayne TinCaps 15, Peoria Chiefs 10
Chase Brookshire got the start for the Chiefs, but he didn't last long. The lefty gave up seven runs on six hits in just two-thirds of an inning. His replacement Kevin Herget did not fare much better, surrendering five runs on six hits in an inning and two-thirds.

Offensively, however, the Chiefs had a field day. Bosco and Carson Kelly each had two hits, while Peoples-Walls and Katz tallied three. However, it was Valera who led the team. He picked up four hits, including two doubles, and knocked in two runs. For his part, Kelly crushed his second homer of the season while driving in four.

Monday, April 21: Peoria Chiefs 5, Cedar Rapids 3
The Chiefs prevailed in a back-and-forth battle that featured four lead changes after the fifth inning. McElroy Jr. singled in the first, and, after moving to third on a wild pitch and a groundout, scored on another wild pitch.

The lead lasted exactly one half-inning, as the Kernels tied it on a double, a wild pitch and a single. The Chiefs retook the lead in the sixth. The inning was led off by a Kelly triple. He scored to tie it on a single by Peoples-Walls, who stole second and scored on a double by Katz.

A solo home run by the Kernels tied it, but Jake Stone's double untied it in the bottom of the eighth.

Alex Reyes started and threw 4 1/3 innings. Chris Perry threw the next 3 2/3 and gave up a run on three hits in a winning effort. Scanio struck out two in the ninth for his first save.

A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for the Chiefs' pitching staff last week. They started the week strong, posting a 2.35 ERA with two shutouts in the three-game sweep of the Lake County Captains. Then they traveled to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and the tables turned. The team logged an 11.25 ERA and, not surprisingly, lost all three games to the TinCaps.

Rings for All

In a Monday pre-game ceremony presided over by farm director Gary LaRocque, Chiefs manager Joe Kruzel and his staff were presented with their St. Louis Cardinals 2013 National League championship rings. Honorees included pitching coach Jason Simontacchi, hitting coach Jobel Jimenez, trainer Mike Petrarca, strength coach Lance Thomason and clubhouse manager Patrick Cramer.

Who's Hot

C.J. McElroy Jr. The Chiefs' outfielder tallied nine hits in his last 18 at-bats to raise his average to .321, an increase of nearly 30 points from a week ago. In the Chiefs' 9-6 loss to the TinCaps, McElroy reached base twice in five at-bats and scored two runs. Included in those nine hits was his first triple of the season. The 20-year-old stole two bases in the doubleheader against the Captains, and is setting the table for the rest of the Peoria order from the leadoff spot.

Chris Thomas. The righty pitched three innings last week and did not give up an earned run, allowing just two hits while striking out five. He has pitched 6 1/3 innings on the season, and has yet to give up a run. The 26-year-old has collected a pair of saves on the season and is currently sporting a 9:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Who's Not

Ronald Castillo. Castillo has been in a bit of a funk at the plate lately, although he did have an eight-game hitting streak before his 0-for-4 night Monday. During the last week, however, he's hitting just .240 (6-for-25). None of the six hits went for extra bases, and the outfielder hasn't drawn a walk since April 14.

Kevin Herget. The righty only pitched in one game over the last week, but he was not very effective in it. Herget took over against the TinCaps on Saturday and gave up five runs (three earned) in 1 2/3 innings. He has been somewhat lucky, since on the season he has given up twelve runs yet only four of them counted against the 23-year-old's record. The New Jersey native's strikeout-to-walk ratio is not very good (9:8) and hitters are hitting .308 against him.

Transactions

None.

Injuries

Catcher Gerwuins Velazco remains on the 7-day DL with a knee injury.

Peoria Chiefs Team Stats

The Chiefs offense seemed to pick things up a little bit last week, as the team's batting average rose 13 points in that period. However, the pitching staff seems to still be struggling, despite having two pitchers (Thomas and Nick Petree) who have yet to surrender a run.

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16
BA 0.260 5th
Runs 76 6th
OPS 0.709 5th
Doubles 26 10th
HR 8 T-4th
Steals 14 4th Fewest
     
Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
ERA 4.04 10th
Strikeouts 124 10th
Walks 65 T-2nd Most
HR allowed 10 T-4th Most
Saves 6 T-3rd

Midwest League Western Division Standings

The Chiefs are tied for place in the Midwest League's Western Division. They have six games this week against division opponents which trail them in the standings.

Club W L PCT GB L 10 Streak
Kane County Cougars (CHC) 11 6 .647 - 7-3 L3
Burlington Bees (LAA) 10 6 .625 .5 6-4 W3
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 9 7 .563 1.5 5-5 W4
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 9 7 .563 1.5 5-5 W1
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 9 7 .563 1.5 6-4 L1
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 9 8 .529 2.0 4-6 L1
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 7 10 .412 4.0 3-7 W2
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 7 10 .412 4.0 4-6 L4

What's Next

The Chiefs continue their home stand with the remaining three games against the Kernels Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday's matchup will be RHP Nick Petree (1-0, 0.00 ERA) against RHP Ryan Eades (1-2, 4.91). On Friday, the Quad Cities River Bandits (Astros) come into Peoria for a three-game series.



Follow Garth Shanklin on Twitter @GarthShanklin.

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